Labor votes down presumptive rights for volunteers
11 May 2018
Labor has voted down legislation that would see all firefighters given the same access to cancer compensation.
An attempt by the Liberals and Nationals to introduce presumptive cancer rights for firefighters in Victoria was this week dismissed by the Andrews Labor Government, much to the concern of Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan.
Ms Ryan said Daniel Andrews was more interested in keeping UFU leader Peter Marshall happy than he was in protecting firefighters.
“We introduced a bill to give all firefighters, career and volunteer, access to cancer compensation without the need to jump through hoops to prove themselves,” Ms Ryan said.
“Labor voted down the legislation in what was an act of complete contempt for volunteers.”
Ms Ryan said prior to coming to government, Labor said it would introduce presumptive rights within 100 days of the November 2014 election.
“After years of delays, Labor attempted emotional blackmail by tying presumptive legislation to its unrelated bill to split up the CFA and give the union veto power over CFA decisions,” Ms Ryan said.
“We voted down that bill in order to protect the CFA and the 60,000 volunteers who protect us and when Labor failed to reintroduce a scheme to compensate firefighters who contract cancer, we introduced this Private Members Bill – no strings attached.
“Our bill backdated eligibility to March 9, 2015, honouring Labor’s broken promise that firefighters would be covered 100 days after the 2014 election.
“I am at a loss to know how Daniel Andrews and his city-centric Labor government could justify voting down presumptive legislation for our local CFA volunteers.”
Daniel Andrews’ legislation also unfairly discriminated against volunteers by creating an advisory committee to judge every volunteer firefighter to determine whether they ‘attended fires to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfil the purpose of their service as a firefighter.’ No mention was made as to how many fires, volunteers would have to attend, to satisfy the committee. Career firefighters were not subject to the same scrutiny.
The Liberal Nationals’ legislation removed this unnecessary and unfair barrier to volunteers and will make the path to cancer compensation the same for both career and volunteer firefighters.
Labor’s legislation does not include training when determining a volunteer firefighter’s eligibility for compensation while the Liberals and Nationals’ bill proposed to expand the definition of firefighting to include the training of firefighters.