Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — The saga continues for Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers across Victoria and in the Morwell electorate. Many local CFA volunteers took time on Sunday to protest on the steps of Parliament against the Premier’s attempt to railroad Victoria’s 60 000 CFA volunteers. As has been said many times, there is no disagreement on the fact that career firefighters deserve fair pay and conditions. There is, however, a major disagreement between a couple of people. They of course are the Minister for Emergency Services and the Premier. On the one hand we have the minister on the public record, as per the Herald Sun on 18 May, saying:
I certainly have grave concerns around the veto, around seven on the fire ground. I’ve made that very clear and I do support the CFA in those matters.
Yet the Premier contests that. He says there is no veto of powers and that CFA volunteers have nothing to worry about. The Premier should say that to the CFA, including its CEO, the board and 60 000 volunteers who have stood up and rallied against his desire to sign this agreement, an agreement that volunteers state would be to the detriment of the CFA organisation. Indeed one of our local CFA volunteers who attended the rally last Sunday said on Channel Seven news:
I believe people will walk out the door and they won’t come back, and we need everyone we can get.
That is a pretty strong statement and reflects the sentiment expressed by many volunteers. I congratulate the CFA volunteers for standing up and speaking out on such important matters, because without their current service and commitment our regional communities will suffer from a substantial increase in risk when future fires occur.