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Nats pledge to make CFA autonomous

By Simon Ruppert

The Nationals in government have pledged to rebuild and restore the Country Fire Authority as an independent, volunteer-based autonomous fire service.

That’s according to Deputy Leader and State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan in response to recent structural changes put in place by the Victorian Government.

Ms Ryan said the Nationals would also establish a Volunteer Commissioner to independently hear and arbitrate on disputes.

“Daniel Andrews is tearing the CFA apart,” Ms Ryan said.

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“Labor has paved the way for Peter Marshall and the United Firefighters Union (UFU) to take over the CFA.

“From today (Wednesday, July 1), the union effectively has control of the CFA.

“A panel dominated by UFU members is responsible for appointing FRV staff to run the CFA, sidelining the CFA’s chief fire officer and silencing volunteers.

“Volunteers are gutted by Labor’s betrayal, but I want the men and women who selflessly serve our communities through the CFA to know that we value them and we value their work.

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“Labor is treating volunteers like dirt under their shoes.

“If the Nationals are elected in 2022, that will change.

“If the Nationals are in government, we will work with volunteers and brigades across the state to rebuild and restore the CFA.

“This will include repealing provisions of Labor’s disastrous legislation, which undermines the capacity of the CFA to function as an independent, autonomous fire service and enshrining in law the power for the CFA to select, recruit and manage its own staff.

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“We will also ensure that CFA staff wear the CFA uniform and we will require the CFA board to sign up to the Volunteers’ Charter, which was legislated in 2012.

“The charter was designed to protect the rights of volunteers, but the board is not bound by it and the experience of the past five years has shown that this Labor government just sacks anyone who gets in their way.”

Nationals Leader Peter Walsh said CFA volunteers had been pushed out by a militant union and a premier who did not have their back.

“Country Victorians want to see the CFA reinstated and we will do just that,’ Mr Walsh said.

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