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Farmers welcome Bill to support volunteer firies

31 August 2016

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed today’s introduction of a Bill that will help protect volunteers who provide important community services like firefighting.

The Fair Work Amendment (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Bill 2016 will ensure the Country Fire Authority retains managerial control over its operations and decisions and is not hamstrung by third party arrangements designed to exert control over volunteer activities.

NFF President, Brent Finlay, said country firefighters had the right to conduct their affairs efficiently and effectively without interference through union control.

“Country firefighters are farmers, their families, their friends and other members of the community who give up their time and very often risk their lives for the safety of others during times of emergency,” Mr Finaly said.

“They also make up the overwhelming majority of Australia’s firefighting force and, as such, save State Governments millions in wages each year.”

Today’s Bill will protect the right of volunteer emergency management bodies to:

• Engage or deploy volunteers;
• Provide support or equipment to those volunteers;
• Manage relationships with other recognized emergency management bodies in relation to those volunteers;
• Manage their operations;
• Decide whether to consult, or reach agreement with, any other person or body before taking certain actions;
• Recognise, value, respect or promote the contribution of it volunteers to the well-being and safety of the community; or
• Act lawfully.

“Governments have a responsibility to recognize the vital public contribution our volunteers make to rural Australia and to the economy as a whole and to provide them with appropriate support for and acknowledgement of the work they undertake,” Mr Finlay said.

“We welcome today’s Bill and look forward to its passage through Parliament.”

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