Human rights start

I read with interest the scurrilous claims by the United Firefighters Union regarding CFA funding (The Standard, December 5).

These claims are nothing but reckless scaremongering by the union and its Labor mates. This year’s budget to the CFA is the second largest in its history, exceeded only by last year’s budget.

CFA’s budget last year contained considerable additional funding to deliver initiatives stemming from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

The Coalition has committed to build or upgrade 250 stations in its first term of government. Indeed, this year’s budget includes $22.9 million to build and upgrade rural fire stations and more than $12 million to purchase firefighting vehicles.

Indeed, Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission implementation monitor Neil Comrie’s final report states that Victoria is now better prepared for bushfire risk than at the time of Black Saturday.

I have personally opened a number of brand new fire stations over the past year, including most recently at Homerton, Grassmere, Ellerslie and Yambuk, as part of the biggest investment in CFA stations across South West Coast in decades. Another six stations were funded in the 2012/13 budget at Cudgee, Mepunga, Toolong, Hotspur, Lyons and Milltown.

With regards to the aerial pumper appliance, the appliance is currently not operational as it is awaiting some replacement parts under warranty.

I am advised that once repaired this appliance will be located in Warrnambool.

However it is the union who are delaying its deployment to Warrnambool by insisting on increased staffing levels which the CFA do not believe are required to safely and effectively operate this appliance. We all agree that this vital piece of equipment should be in service as soon as possible, therefore I suggest that the union stop using this important appliance as a means of pushing their ambit claims for additional full time paid firefighters at Warrnambool.

Denis Napthine MP, member for South West Coast


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