Bulletin No: 056            Volume: 24        Friday 30 March 2018



Today there were unprecedented scenes and a stunning new low in politics when the Liberals’ abused a parliamentary pairing voting process to block firefighters’ presumptive legislation for occupational cancer and fire service reform.

From yesterday afternoon to the early hours of this morning, Liberal and National MPs repeatedly called on the Government to adjourn the session to stop sitting on their claimed “most significant Christian religious day” – Good Friday.

Liberal member Bernie Finn claimed he was feeling “physically sick” because he was being kept from his religious duties while the Victorian Legislative Council (Upper House) continued to sit through the night and this morning to consider the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform Bill).

Another Liberal Member Craig Ondarchie became emotional as he pleaded for the House to adjourn so he could be with his “Christian family”.

The Andrews Government and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council Gavin Jennings acted on their pleadings for religious freedom and offered the opposition the option of “pairing”.  This is an age-old convention when the numbers in Parliament are finely balanced.  It is used in all Australian Parliaments and in many international jurisdictions.  When an MP is unable to attend Parliament (usually due to special personal circumstances or illness) the opposing party also has a member that deliberately misses the vote, to avoid disadvantage to the party who has a member with the special circumstances.

Three opposition members of the legislative council sought to be “paired” claiming attending Parliament on Good Friday offended their religious beliefs and rights.The consideration of the Bill continued clause by clause.

As key cross-bencher Rachel Carling-Jenkins was absent without a “pair” the Government with the support of the Greens and the Reason parties successfully had every clause and amendments pass the committee process with a majority of one.

But, just as the third reading vote to pass the Bill was about to take place, Liberal MPs Bernie Finn and Craig Ondarchie walked back into the Legislative Council.

Their pleadings on religious grounds were now exposed as subterfuge as they were not attending their religious ceremonies but had always intended to walk back in to be able to have the numbers to overturn the vote.

Not only have the opposition blatantly abused religious freedom grounds for their own treacherous political means, but it is likely they have now destroyed the compassionate pairing convention throughout Australia.

These were extraordinary scenes at Parliament that have never occurred before.

The Opposition have thrown away a convention of compassion just to undermine legislation that would give workers compensation rights and entitlements to firefighters diagnosed with cancer, and to block the reform of Victoria’s outdated fire services.
Today community protection was traded off for a political coup.
But it will be a temporary victory for the unscrupulous opposition.
This will not be the end of presumptive legislation to recognise Victoria’s career professional firefighters’ occupational cancers.
This is only a temporary set back for the fire services reform.
In the meantime, please consider that the following members of Parliament have spent an extraordinary amount of their time and dedication.  Please send them an email expressing your gratitude for their support, commitment and dedication.

Daniel Andrews – Daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au
James Merlino – james.merlino@parliament.vic.gov.au
Gavin Jennings –gavin.jennings@parliament.vic.gov.au
Fiona Patten – Fiona.patten@parliament.vic.gov.au
Samantha Dunn – samantha.dunn@parliament.vic.gov.au
Shaun Leane – shaun.leane@parliament.vic.gov.au
Harriet Shing – harriet.shing@parliament.vic.gov.au
Jaclyn Symes – jaclyn.symes@parliament.vic.gov.au
Daniel Mulino – daniel.mulino@parliament.vic.gov.au
Jaala Pulford – jaala.pulford@parliament.vic.gov.au
Cesar Melhem – cesar.melhem@parliament.vic.gov.au
Nina Springle- nina.springle@parliament.vic.gov.au
Huong Truong – Huong.truong@parliament.vic.gov.au
Samantha Rathnam – samantha.ratnam@parliament.vic.gov.au
Sue Pennicuik – sue.pennicuik@parliament.vic.gov.au
Paul Edbrooke – paul.edbrooke@parliament.vic.gov.au
Philip Dalidakis – philip.dalidakis@parliament.vic.gov.au
Khalil Eideh – khalil.eideh@parliament.vic.gov.au
Nazih Elasmar – nazih.elasmar@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mark Gepp – mark.gepp@parliament.vic.gov.au
Jenny Mikakos – jenny.mikakos@parliament.vic.gov.au
Adem Somyurek – adem.somyurek@parliament.vic.gov.au
Gayle Tierney- gayle.tierney@parliament.vic.gov.au

Members are requested to remain calm and professional.

This is only the beginning of another chapter in this journey.

We have overcome much adversity and we will overcome this.

If you are on social media, please remember that each and every one of us are ambassadors for the Union and the professional fire services.      Please do not change that by a lack of discipline.

Any queries please contact Branch Secretary Peter Marshall on 0419 127 004.

Strength in Unity
Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary