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Report recommends CFA reform rejection

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August 23, 2017

Victoria’s controversial firefighting reforms should be rejected and the Department of Premier and Cabinet investigated, a parliamentary committee has found.

The upper house Committee on Fire Services delivered its final report into the proposed restructure of the Country Fire Authority and Metropolitan Fire Brigade on Friday.

The report, endorsed by Coalition and Shooters Fishers members, recommends MPs oppose the plan to merge all paid firefighters into a new Fire Rescue Victoria with a larger metropolitan boundary and make the CFA volunteer-only.

It also calls for presumptive cancer compensation legislation, which will give firefighters with specific cancers a right to a payout, to be separated from the fire reform bill.

In total, the committee made 10 findings and 10 recommendations.

‘‘We have made these recommendations because of the lack of certainty around implementation, operations, and funding under the proposed restructure; the failure to undertake consultation; and the consequential polarisation of fire services staff and volunteers,’’ committee chairman Gordon Rich-Phillips said.

Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, who served on the committee, said the proposed legislation was flawed and lacked proper consultation with fire services, and she agreed the bill should be separated from presumptive rights legislation.

‘‘Presumptive rights compensation for firefighters has broad support across the parliament and should be reintroduced as soon as possible to become law,’’ Ms Lovell said.

The cancer laws were controversially included in the restructure bill in a government attempt to wedge the opposition into voting for it.

The majority report also calls for the Department of Premier and Cabinet to be investigated by the privileges committee over allegations of interference with the committee’s investigation.

A dissenting report from Labor and Green MPs said the government’s plan should proceed, with evidence showing the current system is out of date.

The Victorian Government needs the changes to pass in order to break a pay dispute that has seen a minister resign, a fire board sacked and federal law changes to protect the role of emergency volunteers.

■To read the full report visit: www.parliament.vic.gov.au/fireservicesbill/article/3782

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