Under the Andrews Labor Government, the CFA is being torn apart and taken over by the union-led Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV). Managers and support staff are being stripped out of CFA and replaced with handpicked FRV officers or staff under the direct control of the United Firefighters Union. Reforms passed into law in 2019 undermine the ability for the CFA Chief Officer to select and manage their own staff.
CFA Board members and senior officers of CFA have been bullied, sacked or forced out for not going along with the Labor Government’s anti-volunteer agenda. In late June 2020, the Minister for Emergency Services directed the CFA Board to authorise secondment and service level agreements with FRV which undermined the capacity of the CFA Chief Officer to select and manage his own staff - this led to the resignation of Chief Officer Steve Warrington.
The institutional culture within Victoria’s emergency services has become rotten under the Andrews Government. Scores of volunteers have been bullied, harassed, intimidated and undermined, and cultural issues have often been perpetrated by emergency services personnel who are seeking to advance their own political and industrial interests.
While CFA’s 54,000+ volunteers have a legislated Volunteer Charter and are represented by the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), the Board is not bound by the Charter and the experience of Labor’s ‘fire service reform’ has shown that volunteers do not have an effective independent voice within Government to investigate issues, aid dispute resolution and represent their interests.