June 22, 2022
NSW BUDGET ANNOUCEMENT – FRNSW THE FORGOTTEN SERVICE
In Sitrep 33, we said the proof will be in the pudding. This budget, FRNSW were either going to stand-up and advocate for Professional Firefighters or they were going to fall short, letting State Government continue to walk all-over our work and the communities we serve.
Yesterday’s budget announcement is a hard pill to swallow. It is clear that the bosses have failed once again to secure the funding we need to get the job done.
We have major infrastructure problems in our worksites. They aren’t fit for purpose. We still have trucks that are up to 20+ years old. And instead of demanding more, FRNSW are determined to demonstrate that Firefighters are dispensable and that Stations are mere ‘bricks and mortar’.
On face-value, the Ministers announcement of $50 million over 10 years into FRNSW infrastructure might seem generous. It is a welcome contribution to provide women’s amenities to Stations, something FBEU members have been strong advocates for. But let’s face it, $5 million a year is a band-aid fix to one piece of the puzzle and for a finite number of Stations only. It’s not enough.
It’s also nothing much to celebrate. It is literally a commitment to meet building standards and community expectations. The bare minimum.
$3 million per year to be spent per year over 3 years to replace our bushfire tankers. Again, nowhere near enough.
Oran Park and Marsden Park Fire Stations finally have funding allocated for their build and to fund an appliance. Again, the bare minimum. Countless structure fires have occurred in these rapidly growing parts of Sydney which should have had local crews years ago.
Naturally, there is no allocation of funding for staffing either Station with actual Firefighters to do the work.
Last year, the Government provided FRNSW with a capital budget of $82.6 million, and only $67.2 was spent, a shortfall in spending of $15.4 million.
So where did that money go? Your guess is as good as ours. FRNSW still want you to beg for anything as basic as getting your Station roof fixed.
Aside from that, we have also seen a reduction in FRNSW’s expenses budget, from $918 million to $862 million. This consists of a $39 million projected decrease in employee related operating expenses over the coming financial year.
This should be understood in contrast against a $1 billion increase in funding to the unexplainable bureaucracy that is Resilience NSW. Resilience is now a $2 billion yearly organisation, with no visible outcomes from their $1 billion expenditure over the past financial year.
This funding should be going to increase Firefighters in-line with population growth, to give us the pay increases we deserve, to upgrade our fleet, to make sure our workplaces are safe, and most importantly, to secure the future of our service to the community, and for the future of our jobs.
Yesterday’s budget is a disappointment, and a reminder of the failure of FRNSW to communicate the value of our work to Government. It’s also a failure of Government to ensure that the fire service is keeping pace with the needs of the community.
It won’t stop us fighting. But it is indicative of the extent of our problem. The Plus Plan doesn’t deliver outcomes for Firefighters. A fitting reminder for this week’s ten-year anniversary of the FBEU’s 2012 Workers Comp dispute and general stoppage.
These matters were discussed by the State Committee today, including the proposed FBEU delegates conference. Further details to be supplied in the near future.
To those who submitted an EOI for our Industrial Bans Committee, we’ll be in touch regarding a meeting next week.
You can download a copy of the SitRep here