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Fire services legislation still bogged down

by
August 30, 2017

A sole MP could be the key to seeing CFA legislation passed, with major parties announcing their plans to block the legislation from passing parliament.

A sole MP could be the key to seeing CFA legislation passed, with major parties announcing their plans to block the legislation from passing parliament.

Key crossbencher and Vote 1 Local Jobs MP James Purcell could be the key to the success or failure of the legislation, as the Andrews Government seeks to amend the controversial Fire Services Bill, which would see the creation of Fire Services Victoria and the CFA transformed into a volunteer-only organisation.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government would look closely at the recommendations from the parliamentary committee, which said the bill in its current form should be withdrawn or voted down by the Legislative Council.

The restructure is attached to widely-supported presumptive rights cancer compensation, and Mr Andrews said the two issues would not be split because the reforms were a package.

Cosgrove Pine Lodge CFA captain Ross Harmer said while he couldn’t see any issues with the bill passing in its current form, he was unsure of future implications.

‘‘While (the current paid firefighters) are here they’re looking after us,’’ Mr Harmer said.

‘‘The only possible way we might have issues is if we have people come up from Melbourne who aren’t familiar with our structure out here.’’

CFA District 22 operations officer Travis Harris said it was difficult to keep up with the bill changes.

‘‘There’s definitely uncertainty because it’s just changed too many times,’’ he said.

‘‘For us it’s just business as usual, I personally can’t see anything changing.

‘‘We’re strong and resilient here; whatever the outcomes I don’t think it will affect us at all.

‘‘Anything else can happen in the background but we’re still focused on giving 100 per cent to the community.’’

The bill has reached a deadlock in the upper house, after a parliamentary committee investigating the changes finished its inquiry divided along party lines.

The Greens and Sex Party support the changes, but the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, conservatives and opposition do not.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said it was time to call it quits on the reform.

‘‘The bill is a dud, the bill appears dead, the government either needs to withdraw the bill and take it to the next election or put it to the parliament and have it voted on,’’ Mr Guy said.

‘‘But enough of the games, enough of the politicisation of our CFA, this has all got to end.’’

The government needs the changes to pass in order to break a pay dispute during which a minister has resigned, a fire board was sacked and federal law changes were introduced to protect the role of emergency volunteers.

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