This week the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria handed down its findings. They are available online @ www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au as is some commentary from me here.
There are no real surprises in the document. The concept of a single fire service was floated by counsel assisting the Commission, Jack Rush QC, who argued that a single fire service would avoid “the massive duplication of resources and infrastructure” that accompanies competing fire services. This dovetails nicely with the FBEU’s position – that a single fire service is the most rational and effective way to approach firefighting operations.
While the Commission did not make this finding, it did recommend that a single Commissioner be appointed to oversee all firefighting operations in the event of a disaster of such magnitude. This is at least a step in the right direction.
The Commission also recommended the axing of the Fire Services Levy – by which insurance companies directly fund firefighting (to the tune of 75% of their budgets in both Victoria and NSW). This would be a backward step – the insurance companies are direct beneficiaries of our industry. More firefighters = less fire damage = fewer pay outs to policyholders = higher profits for insurers.
Replacing this with a flat property charge is essentially introducing a regressive poll tax. It lets the insurance companies bludge off the rest of us, which might work wonders for their profits but doesn’t do anything for the industry or the community more broadly.
New transfer registers to open
Special Roster permanent staffing for Ballina, Batemans Bay, Cessnock, Maitland and Nelson Bay remains on track for a 1 October start, with the new Maitland Regional and Batemans Bay Country transfer registers set to be declared open in next week’s In Orders.
Out of orders
This week’s In Orders have been held over until next Tuesday to allow the Union and the Department to negotiate a new “Workplace Complaints Policy”. The Union remains committed to working with the Department to ensure that members are afforded protection from bullying and harassment, but not at the expense of loading members up with responsibilities best left to human resources. Discussion are proving fruitful, and assuming that agreement is reached the policy should be released next week.