New South Wales Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Melinda Pavey
Victor P Taffa
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Melinda Pavey said today that the Liberal and Nationals gave an unequivocal commitment to ensuring that when in Government, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) will remain an independent, stand alone agency.
Leader of The Nationals Andrew Stoner moved a motion in Parliament to confirm that the Liberal and Nationals are firmly against the NSW Labor Governments recent proposal to amalgamate the RFS with the NSW Police Force, and instead called on the Government to commit to ensuring the agency retains independence.
“The Liberal and Nationals gave a 100 % commitment, that under a Liberal and Nationals Government, the RFS will remain a stand along agency.” Mrs. Pavey said.
“The Rees Labor Government had a chance to stand up for the RFS volunteers and to support the Liberal and Nationals motion to ensure the agency retains its independence but disappointingly the Minister for Emergency Services Steve Whan refused to support the motion and instead weakened it by amending it, which means the super department still remains in place.”
In contrast, the Member for the Blue Mountains Phil Koperberg congratulated Andrew Stoner and The Nationals for our commitment to ensuring the RFS retains its full independence.
Whilst Steve Whan was compliant in this super ministry proposal, Phil Koperberg and the RFS Association overturned the decision to bring the RFS under the control of the NSW Police Commissioner.
However the issue of retaining independence has still not been fully resolved. Under NSW Labor’s proposal, the RFS Commissioner still has the power to decide whether or not the RFS can be placed under the power of the NSW Police Commissioner.
“This explains why NSW Labor refused to support our motion. Under NSW Labor, there is still no guarantee that the RFS will retain its independence. In contrast, the Liberal and Nationals today gave a full commitment to the volunteers that the RFS will retain full independence, authority and integrity under a Liberal and Nationals Government.”
“I have met with and consulted with the RFS Association, Volunteer Fire Fighters Association and a number of volunteers on the ground who were extremely angered by NSW Labor’s proposal.”
“The RFS is a unique agency comprised of thousands of volunteers, and they need to be led by someone who understands the nature of it being largely a volunteer organisation.”
“Volunteers need to report to their own agency head, not the Police Commissioner.” Mrs. Pavey said.