Andrews’ compensation bill will divide firefighters, tear heart out of CFA

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — On the matter of time, the Leader of the House made a very important point and that is the issue about sham consultation. That is the point. That is actually the point that we are trying to make — that the government has not consulted with the volunteers.

They have obviously consulted with Peter Marshall. I saw the ads on television and heard the radio ads yesterday, so obviously the United Firefighters Union and secretary Peter Marshall have been consulted significantly over the period of time to be able to get the ads ready for TV and radio. The point that we are trying to make is that we would need full-time consultation over the two weeks to ensure that the message gets out to the volunteers so they understand the impact of this legislation or this bill, and the impact it will have on them.

I have great regard for the member for Frankston, a career firefighter. In fact I have great regard for all the career firefighters and all the people in this chamber who are volunteer firefighters. I have enormous regard for them, but for decades they have worked very, very well together. So I do not understand why the government is trying to tear the heart out of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) by bringing in this bill. That is why it is important — on the matter of time — that people who live in my electorate of Rowville, which is fully covered by the CFA under a joint workable model, have the Rowville integrated station, which has career firefighters and volunteers. I want to be able to go to the Rowville integrated station and be able to talk to career firefighters and volunteers, because I do not understand how this system is going to work under Fire Rescue Victoria.

If you have a Fire Rescue Victoria building with career firefighters in there, how will the operations work when the volunteers in that particular brigade get the call-outs? At the moment volunteers cannot hop into a truck where there are career firefighters, which to me just makes no sense whatsoever. So I need time to be able to sit down and talk to those career and volunteer firefighters at Rowville, for example, to ask them, ‘How will this new model work?’. Will there be a memorandum of understanding between a CFA organisation and Fire Rescue Victoria to say that when a call comes out for the Rowville area both the volunteer and career firefighters will have the same pages, get the same messages and be able to turn up to the same incident? Under this new bill will they be able to go in the same truck? Will a career firefighter and a volunteer actually be able to work on the same truck, which I would have thought is a proper model? If you are truly going to include the volunteers at an integrated station, why not let them go into a fire situation, onto the fireground, in the same truck? That is why I need extra time to be able to talk to the people and the firefighters at Rowville — career firefighters and volunteers.

Then we have the situation of the Scoresby CFA station, which I am a very proud member of. That is only volunteers. I want to know how this will work and what impact it will have on them. If the fire calls are going to go to Boronia — which is integrated — and Rowville, how does that impact on the existing Scoresby CFA volunteers? We have 11 new trainees — can you believe it? — six of whom are women. That is great news for the Scoresby CFA. So it is actually growing, but I need time to be able to sit down and talk to the volunteers at Scoresby CFA to be able to work out how this bill is going to impact them.

At the moment, with just 12 days, it does not seem fair. If the government firmly believes that it has the full support of the Victorian community behind it, why rush it?

Why not allow us to get out and consult fully to ensure that we are able to come back here with a proper consultative approach? In regard to the presumptive rights legislation, the member for Gembrook has made it very clear that this side of the house strongly supported that running into the 2014 election and will continue to do so.