Monday 30 October 2017
Royal Commission into Victoria’s fire services
Today I am announcing that a Liberal Nationals Government will conduct a Royal Commission into Victoria’s fire services.
The outcome of this Royal Commission will be safer communities for all Victorians and a safer workplace for our tens of thousands of career and volunteer firefighters.
We will protect those who protect us.
There is widespread concern in the community that Victoria’s fire services are in a state of crisis which is putting people’s lives, homes and property at risk.
Central to community concern about Victoria’s fire services is the operational effectiveness and implications for community safety of past EBAs of the CFA and MFB, current EBAs and the replacement EBAs. Under the draft Terms of Reference, the process and conduct of negotiations with respect to the replacement EBAs will be a key area for investigation by the Royal Commission.
Despite many previous inquiries and reports, as well as numerous efforts over recent years to fix the cultural and operational problems hampering the state’s fire services, nothing has worked.
Over a period of around 12 months, the CFA board was dismissed and the MFB Board was replaced, with the loss of over 100 years of emergency services experience. The loss of this depth of experience undermines the capacity of Victoria’s fire services and that puts lives and property at risk.
Serious allegations, potentially criminal in nature, of bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment, discrimination and other forms of detrimental action, have been outlined in a series of reports over recent years, but which have not been addressed.
It is often said the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. It is incumbent on all of us to stop turning a blind-eye to these serious allegations.
A Royal Commission is now vital and urgent.
Only a Royal Commission, with the powers it possesses, will be capable of overcoming the obstacles that have thwarted so many earlier efforts at reform. It will be able to compel the production of evidence, critically examine the issues and produce recommendations for government consideration.
There is a concern in the community that Daniel Andrews has politicised our fire services.
A Royal Commission will take the politics out of our fire services and provide considered, impartial and objective recommendations to fix it to protect those who protect us.