Rural fire-fighters work to control a blaze.
Rural fire-fighters work to control a blaze.

Qld minister weighs into fireys’ paid leave debate

PAID leave from work for volunteer fire-fighters is something the Federal Government has the power to introduce, Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services Minister says.

Craig Crawford says the Feds could bring forward amendments to the Fair Work Act to allow this if it wants.

Mr Crawford was responding to The Morning Bulletin’s “Fair go for our fireys” campaign which on Friday saw Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan say the Federal Government was already playing a considerable part in supporting the national bush firefighting effort.

“Senator Canavan isn’t convincing anybody when he says state governments get everything they request from the Commonwealth,” Mr Crawford said.

“As fires burnt around Queensland, the premier requested support from Scott Morrison to acquire a large air tanker, like New South Wales has.

“His silence was deafening.”

Mr Crawford said Queensland typically received about 4.5 per cent of allocations to all states and territories through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.

“Even with an $11 million funding boost, Queensland’s share would be lucky to buy us another few hours’ worth of air time,” Mr Crawford said.

“Just one Blackhawk aerial bomber costs about $6000 an hour to fly.”

Mr Crawford said the Federal Government was “sticking its head in the sand” and avoiding anything that resembled leadership.

“First they short-change the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, now they turn a blind eye to the plight of unpaid volunteers,” Mr Crawford said.

“Again, it’s a shame the Prime Minister cancelled the COAG meeting for this month and robbed Queensland of the opportunity to discuss this matter at a national level.”

Mr Crawford said the State Government paid rural volunteers deployed outside their brigade overnight an incidental allowance, on top of accommodation, travel and meal expenses.

On Friday Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said if the Queensland Government was serious about making paid leave a reality for volunteer fire-fighters, it was more than welcome to approach the Federal Government formally to work constructively towards a positive outcome.



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