Tag Archives: CFA

Andrews Labor Government must stop selective and misleading reporting of firefighting response times.

Members Statement 

Mr WELLS (Rowville) (15:58:18) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government for its selective and misleading reporting of firefighting response times. Labor’s release of data is not about transparency but is a malicious attack on the service delivery model of the Country Fire Authority (CFA), directed at undermining the efforts of our hardworking CFA firefighters. The government is deeply critical of the CFA response times, while holding the CFA to vastly different standards from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). Each CFA brigade is examined right down to the number and percentage of incidents where the brigade attends within the expected service delivery standards. There are statistics for significant urban areas, urban areas and rural areas, and maps of the aggregates of these statistics.

The Premier has cherry-picked which statistics to release, scrutinising the CFA brigade by brigade, while ignoring that CFA brigades are dispatched by 000 to work side-by-side with neighbouring brigades and neighbouring MFB stations. The CFA website states that 000 usually dispatches two brigades to provide immediate assistance, yet these CFA brigade area statistics do not include any of the times where a CFA brigade responds to incidents in neighbouring brigade areas. We do not even know how many times this occurs. In my own electorate, the Rowville and Scoresby CFA brigades often attend road accidents, chemical spills and other incidents on major roads. Emergency medical callouts are not counted in these statistics either. This data is a complete smokescreen by the Premier.

Labor Desperately Silences Debate on Divisive CFA Bill

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government for its failure to allow further debate on its fire services reform bill by adjourning early in the Legislative Council on Friday, 8 September. It is now over 460 days since the Premier emphatically stated that he had ended the Country Fire Authority (CFA) dispute; however, he and his government continue to show total disrespect for Victoria’s 60 000 CFA volunteers through their gutless political manoeuvrings and tactics to destroy the CFA in order to appease and provide political payback to Peter Marshall and his mates in the United Firefighters Union. Continue reading

Andrews has dismissed the collective wisdom and experience of 60 000 trained volunteer firefighters

Tuesday, 6th JUNE 2017

Members Statement

WELLS (Rowville) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government’s dangerous and divisive policy to segregate volunteers from paid firefighters in 35 outer suburban fire stations.

Labor’s radical policy move to restructure Victoria’s fire services has never been recommended in any official review into the fire services. Deliberately the government has not allowed any public debate or consultation with Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria. This Premier, in his arrogance, has dismissed the collective wisdom and experience of 60 000 trained volunteer firefighters. Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers have been left in the dark about how they will operate under the new regime.

CFA members have flooded my email with concerns about the impact of a restructure. For example, the integrated station at Rowville in my electorate will have paid staff who could become employees of the new service, Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), but how this will actually work in terms of them accessing the same pay and conditions is not at all clear. CFA volunteers at Rowville will suddenly become outsiders on Fire Rescue Victoria turf, segregated in an entirely separate organisation while still training and attending jobs at the same station as their paid FRV counterparts. Less than 5 kilometres away at the fully volunteer-run Scoresby station volunteers — many with years of skill and experience — could be answerable to paid FRV staff. There is no guarantee that resources belonging to the CFA, including assets purchased through local fundraising, will remain with the CFA. Training will be conducted by FRV but access for volunteers to training is uncertain.

Emergency Services Minister Questioned About CFA Integration

Tuesday, 6th JUNE 2017

Constituency question

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — (12 744) The constituency question I wish to raise is for the Minister for Emergency Services.Days after Labor announced it would ride a United Firefighters Union wrecking ball through the Country Fire Authority (CFA), the CFA chief officer, Steve Warrington, stated emphatically in a video message to CFA members, and I quote:

… any suggestion that we are not providing a quality service to the Victorian community is absolute rubbish.

Minister, when Labor’s own CFA chief officer has no concerns about safety or quality of service to the Victorian community with the current integrated CFA model and the independent fire services review in 2015 recommending strengthening integration, recommendations which your government committed to adopting in March 2016, where is the justification to divide volunteers from paid members in the CFA.

CFA Chief Officer Warrington confirms current CFA model delivers quality fire service to Victorian community

CONSTITUENCY QUESTION TO EMERGENCY SERVICES MINISTER: 6 June 2017

The constituency question I wish to raise is for the Minister for Emergency Services. Days after Labor announced it would ride a United Firefighters Union wrecking ball through the Country Fire Authority (CFA), the CFA chief officer, Steve Warrington, stated emphatically in a video message to CFA members, and I quote:

… any suggestion that we are not providing a quality service to the Victorian community is absolute rubbish.

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Emergency Services Minister questioned on when the CFA volunteers will be booted out of all intergrated CFA stations

24th MAY, 2017

Constituency question 

 Mr WELLS (Rowville) — (12 673) The constituency question I wish to raise is for the Minister for Emergency Services. Minister, a large number of people from my electorate, served by both an integrated and a volunteer Country Fire Authority (CFA) station, have contacted me about your latest announcement to split CFA volunteers from working alongside paid firefighters in order to force through your failed enterprise bargaining agreement and appease United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall.

Minister, I ask on behalf of the hardworking people in the CFA in my electorate: how long will it be before you call for yet another review which will boot the CFA volunteers out of all integrated CFA stations and shut down all volunteer CFA stations in the Melbourne metropolitan area?

 

Labor Government Must Stop the Terrible Treatment of CFA Volunteers

Tuesday, 21 MARCH 2017

MEMBERS STATEMENTS

MR WELLS (Rowville) — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government and the Minister for Emergency Services for their continued appalling treatment of, and complete disdain for, Victoria’s 58 000 Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers, in stark contrast to the measures being implemented to appease and pay back their United Firefighters Union (UFU) mates in return for a resolution to the ongoing enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) dispute.

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A safe powerline system in Victoria is crucial to prevent more lives from being lost

Thursday, 23rd FEB 2017

Second Reading

WELLS (Rowville) — I rise to join the debate on the Electricity Safety Amendment (Bushfire Mitigation Civil Penalties Scheme) Bill 2017. I guess everyone in the house remembers certain things and certain events in their life, and Black Saturday was certainly one of those events. At home in Wantirna that afternoon the temperature gauge was sitting at 46 degrees. It was absolutely incredible. I went to speak at a Chinese function that night. I left the Chinese function not realising the severity of what had actually happened. On the way home I was listening to 3AW and the callers outlining just how bad the fires were. People found themselves stuck in places and were waiting for the Parks Victoria and Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers to try to get paths open so that they could get out of those towns quickly and with their lives intact. Unfortunately of course that did not happen everywhere.

I just want to pick up a point made by the member for Yan Yean. I know I should not do this, but the facts are very clear: for every year that we were in government between 2010 and 2014, there was an increase — a record increase — in the amount of money that was given to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and to the CFA. The reason I know the United Firefighters Union (UFU) have such control over Labor members is that they keep using the number $66 million, and $66 million is the same number that Peter Marshall uses at the UFU. It is parroted by Labor members. If it was another figure, I would know that they had mixed up their numbers and had not read the budget papers correctly.

When it comes to the budget papers, I am still waiting for there to be one Labor member of Parliament who is able to come into the house to show where there was a cut. They have not been able to do that. They have been in office for two and a half years and they have not been able to do that, but they still go around telling the story that there was a $66 million cut. It is wrong. There was a record budget in the MFB and the CFA every single year.

This bill is in relation to bushfire mitigation, and the shadow Treasurer made it very clear that, when he was the Minister for Energy and Resources in the previous coalition government, the coalition put in a lot of time and effort into bushfire mitigation, especially when it came to powerlines. When the bushfire recommendations came down — there were 67 of them — the coalition government accepted the whole 67. Yes, it was difficult, but we felt that it was absolutely necessary to make sure that Victoria was as safe as possible in regard to bushfires.

Like the member for Gippsland East, who grew up around the Bairnsdale and Metung area, I grew up around Bairnsdale. Every summer we knew that we were going to get hit by bushfires — absolutely every single year, almost without fail. It is not acceptable to have a powerline system that is not safe. When you look at the 159 of the 173 lives that were lost because of faulty powerlines, you start to think that we have got to do something efficiently and as quickly as possible. We found ourselves in the situation of having to deal with two extra recommendations that the previous Labor government would not pick up — recommendations 27 and 32 — which made sure that we were going to make Victoria safe.

This bill details significant compliance activities that are required to be introduced by power companies. That is a good move. High-voltage powerlines must be constructed or replaced or be put underground and single-wire earth return lines, where possible, are to be fitted with powerline automatic circuit reclosers by 31 December 2020 — absolutely crucial things that need to be done.

It is disappointing that we cannot see — and the shadow minister mentioned this — where there has been consultation with the stakeholders. It seems very odd. If you were going to make such significant changes, you would make those changes in consultation with the stakeholders to make sure that they had a full understanding of the compliance that is required and the roles that they need to fulfil to make this legislation work and work properly.

It is also worth noting that when the bushfires royal commission implementation monitor, Neil Comrie, spoke about the way the previous coalition government was implementing the recommendations, he noted in his final report in 2014:

It is pleasing to record that Victoria is now, for a broad range of reasons, including the implementation of the VBRC recommendations, in a much better state of preparedness to deal with the threat of bushfire and other natural disasters than it was on Black Saturday.

He then went on to say:

… positive progress of the powerline reform program under the direction of the powerline bushfire safety oversight committee …

So they were good, positive steps. We are hoping that Victoria is a safer place as a result of this legislation, although we do note that with the lack of consultation, we are in a position where we do not oppose.