Bulletin No: 106 | 14 September 2019

TO: ALL UFU MEMBERS                       




  • As members have been advised, in addition to the 2018 Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management, the Andrews Government this year introduced the Dangerous Goods Amendment (Penalty Reform) Bill 2019.
  • This week the Dangerous Goods Bill passed the Lower House. The Bill will now proceed to the Upper House.  The UFU thanks the Andrews Government for introducing and pursuing this important piece of legislation.
  • A number of politicians in the Lower House rose to speak in favour of the Bill and, in doing so, also rose to speak about the wider issue of toxic dumping – the employees working in the factories/premises, the community that is exposed and the career firefighters who are expected to attend the incidents and do what is necessary to put the toxic blazes out.


Politicians rise to acknowledge the work of career firefighters

On Thursday 12 September, several ALP politicians rose to acknowledge the work of professional career firefighters. 

Paul Edbrooke MP, career firefighter of 14 years and now Member for Frankston, gave the House some insight into preparedness, readiness and the ultimate call to a job like the West Footscray Fire (pgs 85 – 87 of Hansard link above).

Jackson Taylor MP (ALP, Bayswater), Kat Theophanous (ALP, Northcote) and others made reference to the UFU Toxic Dumping campaign, in particular one of our members, who bravely spoke about the ill health effects he suffered as a result of the West Footscray Fire: “The fact that Thurston Darcy and many of his colleagues and many of my former colleagues were placed in these situations by idiots really flies in the face of those exciting penalties…” (Jackson Taylor MP). 

In relation to Campbellfield, Mr Taylor went on to say: “Yet due to the incident and seriousness and sheer risk it posed, it meant that 170-plus firefighters were positioned in close proximity to it and put themselves immediately in harm’s way to protect others”

Gary MAAS MP (ALP, Narre Warren South) also spoke about the many adverse health effects experienced by UFU members and career firefighters in the days, weeks and months following the West Footscray Fires, and others: “Firefighters after the recent fires, as has been well documented in this chamber, have reported experiencing illness, including nosebleeds, lung infections, skin rashes and memory loss after being exposed to the highly toxic smoke and other contaminants produced by the burning solvents ,paints, inks and other chemicals”

Matt Fregon MP (ALP, Glen Waverley) stated “the lives our service personnel as well as those in the community are paramount, and this also goes for the workers who have to work in these places”

Darren Cheeseman MP (ALP, South Barwon) spoke to the exposure on the firegrounds despite the PPE career firefighters wear: “We have recently seen firefighters attending some of these fires where their health and safety have been compromised. Firefighters of course have the necessary safety, equipment and the link, but being exposed to these chemicals can create lifelong health consequences for those workers”.

And Dustin Halse MP (ALP, Ringwood) put it bluntly: “When firefighters are called to a dangerous industrial fire, we are putting their lives at risk”.


The UFU will continue to keep members informed of the status of the Bill in the Upper House.


Strength in Unity

Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary