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Labor blocks cancer compensation for firefighters

20 February 2019


Labor MPs again used their numbers in the Victorian Parliament this week to block the introduction of a scheme to pay compensation to volunteer and paid firefighters with cancer.

Euroa MP and Deputy Nationals leader Steph Ryan expressed disappointment that Labor voted against allowing the Fair Presumptive Rights for Firefighters Bill to be introduced and debated in Parliament.

The bill, which the Liberal Nationals sought leave to introduce, would have reversed the onus of proof for Victorian firefighters and entitled them to compensation if they suffered from specified forms of cancer and had served a minimum period of time as a firefighter.

“I stridently disagree with Labor’s plans to change the structure of the CFA and the role of volunteers within the organisation, but I had hoped Daniel Andrews would at least put the welfare of volunteer and career firefighters above politics,” Ms Ryan said.

“This legislation is of great importance to firefighters across the Euroa electorate. I signed a pledge in the presence of the Euroa CFA brigade that I would fight for presumptive legislation that is equal for volunteers and paid firefighters and that is what I will continue to do.”

Ms Ryan said as the law currently stood, CFA volunteers were ineligible for any compensation if they contracted cancer in the course of their duties.

Career firefighters can claim compensation for 25 proclaimed diseases, but they are required to prove that their work as a firefighter posed significantly greater risk to the development of disease than other work.

“At the 2014 election, both the Liberal Nationals and Labor said they would introduce presumptive rights for volunteer and career firefighters,” Ms Ryan said.

“Daniel Andrews said that presumptive rights legislation would be introduced to the Victorian Parliament within 100 days if he was elected to government. Five years on and Labor has voted on two separate occasions to prevent The Nationals and the Liberals from bringing in legislation to do exactly that.

“Daniel Andrews will only introduce presumptive legislation if it is tied to his ruinous plan to tear the CFA apart.”

Shadow Emergency Services Minister Brad Battin said Daniel Andrews was using the health of firefighters as a political football.

“Daniel Andrews will only offer firefighters compensation for cancer claims on the condition of their controversial reform, which is to tear up the CFA,” Mr Battin said.

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