Fire services

21st June 2017- Mr O'Sullivan- I wish to rise this morning to discuss the motion that is before the house that has been moved by Mr Rich-Phillips in relation to the establishment of a select committee in relation to the bill that has been put forward by the government, the Firefighters' Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2017. This issue is one that has been dragging on for some time, and as has been clearly stated by Ms Shing, this is a debacle. This is an absolute debacle, and that is a real shame for everyone that is involved in this because the fire services that we have here in this state play a critical role in protecting life and property. That involves protecting the life and property of everyone who lives in this state, and quite often it goes beyond our borders in assisting those who live across the border in other states and also in other countries, as we have seen in terms of a strike force capacity helping fellow citizens around not just Australia but the whole globe.

What this bill has brought to the debate in terms of our community is division, and that is one of the things that I am most concerned about in relation to this. As you go around the state and seek the views of people in terms of what the impacts of this legislation will be and what impacts it will have on our local communities, it is those divisions that have caused some of the biggest concerns.

It is true to say that this legislation has been rushed into the Parliament, and that is something that has really concerned volunteers — why this legislation has been rushed into the Parliament without any meaningful consultation with the people who are going to be impacted most by it. I think it is probably fair to say that a review or an inquiry into this legislation is absolutely essential. There is so much in this legislation that is not clearly understood. There is so much in this legislation that is trying to bring about an outcome which will have detrimental impacts on such organisations as the Country Fire Authority (CFA) with its 60 000 volunteers. That is 60 000 people who when it is required, when their pager goes off or when the siren goes are prepared to drop what they are doing and at all costs turn out to a fire to protect others, to protect life and to protect property. That is one of the great things of our community, and we should celebrate that. We should not denigrate that; we should not attack that.

Unfortunately what is happening with this legislation is it is bringing in a whole range of consequences for the volunteers, for the CFA and for our fire services that will have detrimental impacts, and the CFA volunteers feel threatened by it. They are very concerned by it, and they do not feel that they have had the opportunity to have their say. They do not feel that they have been consulted in terms of what the real impacts of this will be. That is one thing that this inquiry will allow to happen — for those volunteers and those people who may be impacted by this legislation to come forward and actually talk to the committee and have their say, because they have had no opportunity thus far to put up their hand and say, 'This is what I think of this legislation. This is how it is going to impact my station'.

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