Victorian fire fight ongoing
Negotiations continue over the Victorian Government's controversial plan to split fire services.
The Andrews Government wants to make the Country Fire Authority (CFA) an entirely volunteer organisation.
It plans to replace the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) with a new body called Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), which would encompass all paid firefighters across the state.
The proposed changes come after years of paid CFA firefighters pushing for an enterprise bargaining agreement, which volunteers argue would give too much power to unions.
The bill has passed Victoria's Lower House, but needs the support of the Greens and two crossbenchers to get through the Upper House.
Rachel Carling-Jenkins from the Democratic Labour Party said some concerns have not been answered.
“Both sides need to be heard,” she said.
“There is so much angst, there is so much within both MFB and the CFA and I think the only way to sort that out is through a select committee.”
The Shooters and Fishers Party, which has two MPs in the Upper House, has not made a decision.
Shooters and Fishers MP Jeff Bourman says a select committee should be formed to examine the changes.
“Given the far-reaching consequences of this bill … I don't think we've had nearly enough time to consider properly what's going on,” he said.
“I think a committee will do what we don't have the ability to do, and that is to ask the hard questions and get the proper answers, as long as it's not used as a political stunt by the major parties.”
Crossbench MP James Purcell of the Vote 1 Local Jobs is not supporting the bill, and says there has been a lack of consultation with CFA volunteers about the changes.
“The more CFA members I went to see, they said they weren't being consulted,” Mr Bourman said.
“Until the members, the CFA volunteers have been consulted well and widely, I wouldn't be supporting it.”
United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall says the reforms are well overdue.
“This is not about territory, it's not about takeover, it's about whether the community is protected,” he said.
“It's not career firefighters versus volunteer. It's not CFA versus MFB. It's not the Liberal Party versus the Labor Party.
“The final arbitrator should be the key performance indicators set by the fire services to maximise potential for saving life and property.”