Victorians to decide on firefighters laws at state election | Australian Greens

Victorians to decide on firefighters laws at state election

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fair Protections for Firefighters legislation is set to become an election issue following the defeat of the the Greens motion today. 

"Today I called on all parties to protect our firefighters who get cancer from their work within 6 months of the election this November. The Napthine Liberal-National Government refused," said Victorian Greens spokesperson on emergency services Colleen Hartland.

"What message does this send to the thousands of career and volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line every day to protect us."

"Other states have already protected their firefighters, our federal firefighters are protected - it's time to protect those Victorians who protect us."

"Firefighters are exposed to toxic chemicals and smoke. As a result, firefighters are 5 to 10 times more at risk of developing certain cancers and more than 2 to 3 times more likely to get lung cancer than a smoker. The science is clear" 

"Unlike firefighters serving in other states, if a Victorian firefighter gets a cancer, it is almost impossible to access WorkCover protections that other workers have."

"The government's lack of care for firefighters is not at attitude shared by the community. Since launching this community campaign in 2011 I have been overwhelmed by the community's support for our firefighters with over 7,000 people actively participating in my Fair Protection for Firefighters campaign. "

"The Coalition government has ducked and weaved on this issue for long enough. I'm confident that Victorians will vote to protect Firefighters at the November 29 State Election,"  said Ms Hartland. 

Labor amended the motion to extend the 6 month period to 18 months, and then supported the motion. 

For media comment: Colleen Hartland 9689 6373

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The Motion:

I move —

That this House —

(1) acknowledges — 

(a) the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria’s brief to members, dated 12 June 2014, which outlines how the Firefighters Assessment Panel and the Firefighters Advisory Service have failed firefighters, and the issues that need to be addressed;

(b) the Firefighters Assessment Panel has failed to increase the number of successful WorkCover claims by firefighters for work related cancer;

(c) the creation of the Firefighters Assessment Panel only serves to add another administrative layer to the application process and is procedurally unfair, rather than facilitating prompt, compassionate and fair assessments, as were the Government’s stated intentions at the time it was announced; 

(d) that the Firefighters Advisory Service does not help firefighters understand the claims process and has in some cases been a hindrance; and

(e) that the need remains to reverse the onus of proof in the determination of cancer related compensation claims by firefighters, as has been done for federal firefighters, to increase the number of successful claims for those who have contracted cancer scientifically linked to firefighting; and

(2) condemns the Coalition Government for blocking progress on legislation to address this issue; 

and calls on all parties to commit to introducing legislation, within the first six months of the 58th Parliament, to reverse the onus of proof for firefighters’ cancer related WorkCover compensation claims, should they be elected to Government at the November election.