Emergency Services | May 14, 2018

Labor vote shows contempt for CFA volunteers

Labor has voted down legislation that would see career and volunteer firefighters given the same access to cancer compensation.

An attempt by the Liberal and Nationals to introduce presumptive cancer rights for firefighters in Victoria was dismissed by the Andrews Labor Government last week, much to the concern of the Member for Lowan Emma Kealy MP.

Ms Kealy said Daniel Andrews was more interested in keeping UFU leader Peter Marshall happy than he was in protecting firefighters.

“The Liberal Nationals introduced a bill to give all career and volunteer firefighters access to cancer compensation without the need to jump through hoops to prove themselves”, Ms Kealy said.

“Labor voted down the legislation in what can only be described as an act of complete contempt for volunteers.

“Prior to coming to government, Labor said it would introduce presumptive rights within 100 days of the November 2014 election.

“After years of delays, Labor attempted emotional blackmail by tying presumptive legislation to its unrelated bill to split up the CFA and give the union veto power over CFA decisions.

“The Liberal Nationals voted down that bill to protect the CFA and the 60,000 volunteers who protect us.

“Then, when Labor failed to reintroduce a scheme to compensate firefighters who contract cancer, the Liberal Nationals introduced our bill which also backdated eligibility to 9 March 2015 - honouring Labor’s broken promise that firefighters would be covered 100 days after the 2014 election,” she said.

Daniel Andrews’ legislation also unfairly discriminated against volunteers by creating an advisory committee to judge every volunteer firefighter to determine whether they ‘attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfil the purpose of their service as a firefighter’ and did not include training when determining a volunteer’s eligibility for compensation.

Career firefighters were not subject to the same scrutiny and there was no mention of how many fires volunteers would have had to attend to satisfy the committee.

“The Liberal Nationals legislation would remove this unfair barrier to volunteers and make the path to cancer compensation the same for both career and volunteer firefighters,” Ms Kealy said.

“I am at a loss to know how Daniel Andrews and his city-centric Labor government could justify voting down presumptive legislation for our local CFA volunteers,” she said.

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