Victoria Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu
Victoria Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan
Coalition Announces $136 Million CFA Volunteers Funding Package
Victor P Taffa
• Unprecedented legislation to enshrine the terms of the CFA Volunteer Charter and protect the rights of volunteers.
• $36 Million to upgrade and build CFA and SES stations.
• $25 Million to enhance the CFA vehicle fleet.
A Liberal Nationals Coalition Government will enhance the capacity of CFA volunteers to protect Victorians from bushfires by providing unprecedented funding for infrastructure and equipment and a guarantee that they will be consulted on all decisions that affect them.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan today announced a $136 Million funding package that includes record investments for CFA stations, appliances and equipment used by CFA volunteers on a daily basis.
Mr. Baillieu said the rights of Victoria’s dedicated CFA volunteers had been eroded over the past 11 years under Labor Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby who had failed to deliver on their promises to volunteers.
“The Labor Government has consistently undermined the interests of Victoria’s hard-working CFA volunteers and endorsed union interference in the day-to-day operations of volunteer brigades across the state.” Mr. Baillieu said.
“It is a clear indication of Labor’s priorities that it has openly violated the terms of the Volunteer Charter which commits the government to consult with the elected representatives of CFA volunteers on all matters that impact on volunteers.”
“John Brumby has paid only lip service to the Volunteer Charter. In stark contrast, we will legislate the terms of this important document and guarantee better work conditions for the state’s 59,000 volunteers.” Mr. Baillieu said.
Mr. Baillieu said the Coalition would legislate to enshrine the commitments contained in the Volunteer Charter to ensure volunteers were always fully and fairly consulted on issues that affect them, such as recruitment, training and support programs.
“CFA volunteers will be recognised, valued, respected and promoted for their contributions to the wellbeing and safety of Victorians.” Mr. Baillieu said.
“In consultation with the volunteers we will also pursue specific legislation to strengthen respect and support for volunteers.”
Mr. Baillieu said the Coalition’s $136 Million package acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the CFA and would give volunteers a safe environment in which to work through the provision of enhanced equipment and facilities.
“The Coalition will provide unprecedented support for CFA volunteers that include a record $36 million to upgrade and build more than 60 CFA and SES stations.” Mr. Baillieu said.
“A Coalition Government will ensure all new CFA stations comply with the bushfire safety provisions of the Building Code of Australia.”
“The Coalition will also deliver a record $25 Million to enhance the CFA vehicle fleet to include new tankers, pumper trucks, ultralight tankers and operational support vehicles.
“As part of fleet upgrades, vehicles will be fitted with GPS capability to improve the safety of CFA employees and volunteers when fighting fires.”
Mr. Ryan said a $36.4 Million fund would be created to enhance firefighter safety on the ground, including fast-tracking the delivery of protective uniforms to firefighters.
“It’s been ten years since the need for improved personal protective clothing was first identified and yet Labor has only delivered 8,800 of the 20,000 sets it promised. The Coalition will work proactively with the fire agencies to fix these ongoing problems and deliver what Labor couldn’t.” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan said the Bushfires Royal Commission had emphasised that were it not for the efforts of those who placed their lives at risk in order to fight the fires, the damage and loss caused by last year’s bushfires would have been even greater.
“Volunteer firefighters take enormous risks every day they’re on the job and every effort needs to be made by the government of the day to ensure their safety.”
“The Bushfires Royal Commission has also told us that in many instances, Victoria’s firefighters were let down by the Brumby Government, which failed in its responsibility to ensure the CFA had the equipment, information systems and infrastructure befitting a twenty-first century firefighting operation.”
“The Coalition appreciates the lifesaving efforts of our firefighters and, in government, we will enhance the capacity of the CFA to battle blazes through the provision of better resources and access to information.” Mr. Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said the Coalition’s $136 Million CFA volunteer package also included:
- One-off funding of $250,000 to eliminate the need for CFA volunteer brigades to contribute to the CFA Volunteer Welfare Fund
The Coalition will provide a one-off $250,000 cash injection into the CFA Volunteer Welfare Fund, administered by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.
This will help eliminate the need for volunteer brigades to contribute to the fund in order to access the grants it provides to CFA volunteers facing financial difficulties or hardships.
- $20 Million to extend the Community Safety Emergency Support Fund and the Valuing Volunteers Program for a further four years
The Coalition will extend the Community Safety Emergency Support Fund and Valuing Volunteers Program for a further four years, giving volunteer brigades continued access to funding for equipment and for programs to help attract, recognise, train and retain volunteers. The Coalition’s boost is a record investment in these two programs.
The continuation of these two programs will give volunteer brigades access to funding for vital equipment and for programs to help attract, recognise, train and retain volunteers.
- Provide Identification Cards for all CFA Volunteers
The Coalition will invest $700,000 to provide identification cards for all CFA volunteers to ensure roadblocks do not delay or prevent firefighters from reaching firegrounds.
- $18 Million for Pagers, Regional Training Facilities and Volunteer Support Initiatives
Evidence before the Bushfires Royal Commission exposed serious shortcomings with the pagers and radios used by Victoria’s firefighters and pointed to a desperate need to fix communication problems caused by radio black spots, channel congestion and interference with radio transmission caused by smoke.
A Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government will establish an $18 Million fund for pagers, regional training facilities and other volunteer support initiatives to attract additional volunteers to become a part of the great institution that is the Country Fire Authority.
CFA volunteers and their elected representatives will continually be consulted about their requirements in the area of volunteer support and recruitment.
- In addition to the $136 Million package, a Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government will provide $15.6 Million to improve radio systems used by DSE and CFA firefighters
The Coalition will also provide $15.6 Million towards genuine work to overcome black spots in the CFA’s radio systems and conduct research into the effect of smoke on radio communications.