News National PM moves to protect CFA and blunt union power-grab

PM moves to protect CFA and blunt union power-grab

The fight between CFA volunteers and the union was a key part of Mr Turnbull's election campaign. Photo: AAP
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will outline new legislation to protect emergency services volunteers from excessive union influences, in the wake of the bitter Country Fire Authority (CFA) dispute in Victoria.

The prime minister and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash on Monday will release the changes before introducing them to parliament next week.

The pair wants to amend the definition of “objectionable terms” in the Fair Work Act, so an enterprise agreement can no longer undermine the capacity of emergency services volunteer bodies to properly manage their operations, Senator Cash writes in News Corp.

“This simple change will fix a huge mess,” she said.

“It will mean the CFA can get back to doing what it’s been doing for 70 years – keeping us safe and making us proud.”

Senator Cash said what was happening to the CFA was nothing short of a “hostile power grab by greedy, hard-line union bosses” facilitated by Premier Daniel Andrews and endorsed by Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Mr Turnbull had used the contentious issue during the federal election campaign to wedge Mr Bill Shorten, promising to introduce legislation in the first sitting week if re-elected.

Manager of government business in the Senate, Mitch Fifield said the state Andrews government was seeking to destroy the culture of the CFA.

“They should leave it alone and what we’re going to do is make sure that the volunteers are protected,” he told ABC radio.

Senator Fifield said his cabinet colleague had been talking intensively with the new, expanded cross bench on the issue, but he didn’t wish to speak on their behalf.

Former emergency services minister Jane Garrett resigned in June shortly before the premier pushed the CFA deal through cabinet earlier in the year.

The CFA chief executive Lucinda Nolan and CFA chief officer Joe Buffone also quit, and the former board was sacked because all the members believed the deal gave too much power to the union.

Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said the regulation of the CFA was a matter for the state government.

“Malcolm Turnbull is just using it to bolster his own political position,” he told Sky News.

“There’s litigation proceeding through the courts at the moment and for Malcolm Turnbull to dive into the middle of this shows how desperate he is to distract from his other economic problems.”

View Comments