Release type: Joint Media Release


Fair Work Amendment to protect Victorian Volunteer Firefighters


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia

The Coalition Government has today released draft legislation to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 to protect the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) and similar volunteer organisations from union takeovers.

The Victorian Government is seeking to hand control of the CFA’s volunteers to the United Firefighters Union (UFU) through a new enterprise agreement under the Fair Work Act. The Turnbull Government is moving swiftly to prevent the integrity and effectiveness of the Victorian CFA from being compromised.

Prior to the Federal election the Coalition made it clear that if re-elected we would use all available federal powers to stop the CFA/UFU enterprise agreement from restricting the effective use of CFA volunteers.

As enterprise agreements are governed by federal legislation - the Fair Work Act - we are intervening to amend the Act to ensure that these agreements cannot be misused to undermine volunteer emergency services organisations.

The proposed CFA agreement includes a number of clauses that are clearly discriminatory against volunteers and provide the UFU with an unreasonable, unwarranted degree of control over volunteer operations, including a veto power over management decisions.

This agreement will weaken the CFA as an organisation and compromise the safety of Victorians who rely on the CFA to protect their lives and property. While the Labor Party remains in lockstep with union bosses intent on executing a hostile takeover, the Turnbull Coalition will stand side by side with the men and women of the CFA.

The Fair Work Amendment (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Bill 2016 will invalidate terms in enterprise agreements that undermine the capacity of firefighting or state emergency service bodies to properly manage their volunteer operations or restrict these bodies from respecting, valuing or promoting their volunteers. It will also strike out terms that are inconsistent with state or territory laws that regulate such bodies.

This legislation also gives volunteers a voice by providing volunteer organisations the right to make submissions in Fair Work Commission agreement approval proceedings. Currently volunteer

organisations do not have a right to be heard in such matters, despite the significant negative impact enterprise agreements can have on them.

As well as protecting the CFA, this legislation will prevent similar union takeovers happening to volunteers of other firefighting and emergency services bodies covered by the Fair Work Act.

This long-running debacle has now resulted in the resignations of the Victorian Emergency Services Minister and the CFA CEO as well as the sacking of the CFA board, who refused to capitulate to the militant United Firefighters Union’s demands.

We will not stand by and let the discriminatory and offensive terms of this agreement undermine the effective use of the CFA’s volunteer firefighters.

The Government is committed to protecting the 60,000 volunteers of the CFA not just for their benefit but for the safety of all Victorians. CFA volunteers do not hesitate to support Victorians in their hour of need - the Parliament now has a duty to stand up for this historic institution and allow them to continue to do what they do best.

To view the draft legislation visit: