Concerns have been raised that a decision to split the professional and volunteer fire fighting services in Victoria may discourage current and future volunteers of the service Mr Blackwood has said today.
Mr Blackwood said for months speculation had been rampant that this move would be made to appease the UFU and there were very real concerns about what it meant for CFA volunteers.
‘For months local CFA volunteers have raised concerns with me about the Andrews Labor Government’s plans to separate career and volunteer members and today their fears have been realised,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘Already operational CFA volunteer levels are expected to drop under Daniel Andrews by nearly 10 per cent in 2016-17 and this decision will not help inspire confidence in those who remain.
Mr Blackwood said there had been a distinct lack of consultation regarding the split with many CFA volunteers saying they were infuriated by the Labor Governments claims they had spoken widely with CFA brigades.
‘As with SkyRail, Melbourne Metro, the Port of Melbourne sale and many other major decisions, Daniel Andrews has failed to work with those who will be most affected by this decision, CFA volunteers.
‘I understand the Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Services and Labor Member for Eastern Region Ms Harriet Shing recently attended a local VFBV meeting and refused to answer questions about this exact proposal.
‘That is not good enough for local members who give so much of their time, effort and experience to support our community when in need.
‘This model may see an inexperienced, fresh out of college graduate career firefighter directing a volunteer with more than 40 years experience due to this new chain of command.
‘We cannot have a situation where experienced members consider walking away from the CFA due to this restructure and much more detail will be needed to convince those volunteers this is the right move by the Andrews Labor Government.
‘Many questions are unanswered in this split, for example; what happens to money or equipment which has been fundraised for by CFA volunteers, will it be handed over to the new Fire Rescue Victoria, will it be retained by the Andrews Government or something else all together?
‘Volunteers have invested so much in their local brigades both financially and personally and under this decision that could all be stripped away from them.
Mr Blackwood said he would continue to meet with local CFA leaders and volunteers who were venting their anger at the decision that is purely political.
‘This is not about building a safer Victoria, it is about appeasing the UFU, Peter Marshall and those who Daniel Andrews is indebted too.
‘There is not a single review into the emergency fire services that has recommended this type of break- up of the CFA,’ said Mr Blackwood.