Future bleak for CFA split proposal

Upper House Member for Western Victoria James Purcell signals his intention to block the government's proposed legislation to split the CFA.  Picture: Amy Paton
Upper House Member for Western Victoria James Purcell signals his intention to block the government's proposed legislation to split the CFA. Picture: Amy Paton

Opponents of the state government’s plan to split the CFA are quietly confident the plan has been blocked following south-west MP James Purcell’s decision to oppose it.

Cross-bench upper house MP Mr Purcell said on Monday evening he expected the best likely voting outcome for the government on the proposed legislation would be a 20/20 stalemate.

The bill might go to the Legislative Council this week but when it does will depend on the government.

 “The government needs a majority to get legislation through,” Mr Purcell said.

“Unless they get it from one of the other cross-benchers, they will not have a majority,” Mr Purcell said.

While fellow upper house MP Fiona Patten, from the Australian Sex Party, has yet to make a decision on the bill, even if she votes in favour of the legislation it would only achieve a 20/20 tie and the bill will lapse.

While the government has the support of the four Australians Greens Upper House MPs for the bill, the two Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MPs and the Democratic Labour Party’s Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins are expected to join Mr Purcell and Opposition MPs in opposing it.

Mr Purcell has said he could not support the bill while CFA volunteers had not been consulted about the proposal.

Volunteers Fire Brigades Victoria District Five councillor Owen O’Keefe, of Winslow, complimented Mr Purcell for consulting with CFA volunteers in a series of recent meetings in the south-west.

“He got out there and met with the volunteers in their patch and at their convenience,” Mr O’Keefe said.

He said the proposed legislation would lead to a reduction in volunteer numbers. 

United Firefighters Union Warrnambool delegate Troy Cleverley said it would be up to the state government to take the next step if the bill was not passed. 

He doubted the UFU would take industrial action if the bill was blocked.

“It is good legislation. It’s needed for the betterment of fire services. It’s needed for community safety,” Mr Cleverly said. 

Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said the proposal had created confusion about the role of CFA volunteers in integrated stations with them being told nothing would change but the chief officer conceding things would change.