Paramedics and firefighters say Cash’s bill risks community safety

UFU MEDIA RELEASE:

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Paramedics and firefighters say Cash’s bill risks community safety

Today, representatives of Victoria’s career firefighters and paramedics will give evidence to an Senate Committee hearing looking at the Turnbull Government’s radical and unjustified intervention into the State’s emergency services.

United Firefighters Union Secretary Peter Marshall and Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria Secretary Steve McGhie will appear before the Senate’s Education and Employment Legislation Committee which is conducting public hearing into the Turnbull Government’s Fair Work Amendment (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Bill 2016.

Mr Marshall said this unprecedented attempt at Federal intervention into a state industrial dispute was purely a distraction designed to score political points.

“The Turnbull Government’s decision to manipulate this serious emergency service matter, for its own cynical political purposes is beyond belief,” said Mr Marshall.

“There is absolutely no justification for Federal intervention into this State industrial matter and the with the fire season fast approaching, the delays and division caused the Liberal Party’s confected crisis are destroying morale in the fire services and risk community protection from fire threats.

“The Black Saturday Royal Commission recommended stronger coordination between our fire services. Stronger coordination should be the Government’s priority, not creating division.

Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria Secretary Steve McGhie said that volunteers within Ambulance Victoria do a fantastic job and strongly believes that the proposed legislation is completely unnecessary

“This legislation has the potential to delay the introduction of new treatments and the upgrading of ambulance branches which only disadvantages the community,” said Mr McGhie.

“The Bill is dangerous because it is retrospective and challenges the validity of the variation to the Ambulance Victoria 2015 Enterprise Agreement which has recently been certified by the Fair Work Commission and endorsed by 98.76% of the workforce.

Mr Marshall said that the Turnbull’s calls to ‘respect emergency service volunteers’ rang hollow, because the work of volunteer firefighters would not be affected by the EBA and they were already deeply respected by all emergency service colleagues.

“The Fair Work Commission has confirmed that the work of volunteer firefighters would not be affected and volunteer firefighters have nothing to fear from the EBA.

“What is at stake is the 350 additional firefighters that would be provided under the new EBA. This will deliver a stronger Metropolitan Fire Brigade better resourced to provide fast, consistent response times that will better protect Victorians.

“The Turnbull government is wasting the public’s time and money with political games and point scoring.  This deeply divisive agenda will put Victorian communities at risk this fire season,” said Mr Marshall.

Media Contact: Jessica Kendall 0414679857