Daniel Andrews failure to consult CFA volunteers on the split of professional and volunteer members is a slap in the face to the thousands of volunteers who have protected our State for decades Mr Blackwood has told State Parliament this week.
‘The announcement last week by the Andrews Government to effectively break up the CFA, broaden the involvement of the MFB into peri-urban areas and strengthen the influence of career firefighters in regional areas has been introduced with absolutely no consultation with the 57,000 volunteers what have kept our communities safe for decades,’ Mr Blackwood said.
Mr Blackwood said that claims by the Deputy Premier and his Labor colleagues that consultation had occurred with volunteer brigades were untrue and that
‘The claims of consultation are just another Labor lie and despite claims by Ministers, the Deputy Premier and some of his Labor colleagues there has been no consultation with volunteer brigades on this proposal.
‘Volunteers have told me that the Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, recently attended a Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) meeting in my local area, and when questioned about the proposal to break up the CFA, she refused to answer questions.
‘The Premier’s blatant disregard for the potential impact of his plan, which is in fact blatant unmitigated disrespect for country communities and their safety, is an absolute disgrace.
Of the questions unanswered, Mr Blackwood said the most critical were volunteer raised funds for vehicles and equipment which may now be transferred to the newly established Fire Rescue Victoria.
‘I have met with a number of CFA volunteers in recent days, and the unanswered questions they have is a clear indication that no consultation has taken place.
‘Concerns regarding funds raised by volunteers for essential equipment is a major concern.
‘In one instance, over $400,000 has been raised by volunteers from the local community for a new Hazmat vehicle. That vehicle may now become the property and be in the control of the proposed new entity, Fire Rescue Victoria.
‘There is absolutely no justification for creating two separate entities to provide fire safety, with one having superiority over the other when the CFA as a combined career and volunteer firefighting force has been so successful in maintaining community safety for decades,’ said Mr Blackwood.