A Rural Fire Service firefighter controls a backburn in an effort to contain an approaching fire near Nattai, southwest of Sydney, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Hot dry conditions have brought an early start to the fire season. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
A Rural Fire Service firefighter controls a backburn in an effort to contain an approaching fire near Nattai, southwest of Sydney, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Hot dry conditions have brought an early start to the fire season. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Fair go for our fireys: Who should pay them?

THE Morning Bulletin 'Fair go for our fireys' campaign to ensure volunteer firefighters are not out of pocket for defending our communities is gaining momentum and attracting the attention of Australia's decision makers.

Many recognise the need for Rural Firefighting volunteers who are being taken away from their jobs, sometimes across the state or interstate, to have help making ends meet.

Readers' comments taken from The Morning Bulletin's Facebook page are centring around who is going to foot the bill.

Joanne Coulter: Should be based on the same as Army Reserve. They are paid a daily rate as regular. Tax is taken out and when tax returns done the tax is returned. Employers would get support for them when they have extended time off. At the moment I think they are under State control. But if they came under National Defence as in Environmental Defence would work quite well. Get paid for training days and work with Regular Fire Fighters in each State. They deserve recognition and not be crucified by politics.

Mark Griggs: I've always supported this, and it should be both State and Federally funded. No less than $150 per day and not taxed.

Tracey Searell: I agree no small business would take on volunteers if it meant they would be forced to pay someone to cover the person away and pay the wages of those volunteers. I think a system similar to paid parental leave would be much easier but it should be a lot less time intensive to gain payments.

Megan Cosgrove: Employees should not have to foot the bill. The government should be paying them. There should be a budget allocated to Queensland Fire specifically to pay extras during the crucial fire season and employees should be compensated for any loss of income from loss of production due to their skilled workers being off fighting fires.

Mandy Ramm: The government should subsidise the pay for these volunteers. Look at the politicians flying around the country to these disaster areas and staying in hotels with showers, and meals. The government pays for that while these volunteers go countless hours risking their own lives to save that of others.

Step Holden: Why should an employer cover the cost of somebody who wants to be a volunteer? That is an absolute can of worms, not going to happen, using businesses to protect volunteers from income loss is simply and absolutely not feasible. Employers role is not to totally fund volunteers basically working under and under the control/direction of a government umbrella.

Caroline Ferris: If a business has three or four volunteers, they just can't assume the cost. If it sends a business under then no one at that company has jobs. If this happens government has to pay through taxes. Businesses that employ volunteers can't be the only ones to pay.

Andrew Buckle: There was talk around government making the payments for natural disasters to the businesses which would allow people to attend for longer periods in those times. Gonna take a monumental effort to get it across the line but its well and doable. Being paid then attending natural disasters and more emergency services leave is only going to make things better for all volunteers moving forward and make more volunteers available in times of need. Surely that's only a good thing moving forward.

Susie WIlcock: I thought they did get some sort of compensation.

Ell Tarver: Governments need to pay them like the Army Reserve. These voluntary fire people are putting their lives on the line every time there is a fire protecting the Australian people.

Leyland Barnett: If it is okay for the government to give select public servants a $220 million bonus, then I can see no issues in doing the same for rural fire volunteers, after all they are saving the government millions of dollars?

Craig Andrews: Government should pay their days off. Meanwhile public servants, CEOs, get paid for doing nothing much.

Babs Jj: These "volunteers" are doing massive work. Businesses need to release them and I do believe they should be paid by jointly by governments just like the Defence Reserves do. On a payroll not a "welfare cheque".



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