Labor backs paying our fireys
CLUTCHING onto The Morning Bulletin's front page story calling for a "Fair go for our fireys", Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese threw his support behind the local campaign to support our Rural Firefighters.
After encountering a similar predicament where southern Rural Firefighters were struggling to get leave from their employers or be compensated for their time away from work, Mr Albanese believed it was high time that a national conversation at a National Bushfire Summit allowed discussion on this and other bushfire related issues.
Mr Albanese said the leave support idea would be to "provide some form of government assistance in recognition that people are losing their income".
"You'd need to balance that with a full analysis of where leave is allowed by existing employers and making sure that existing employers weren't disadvantaged or it didn't encourage the withdrawal of existing leave arrangements that gave an advantage to volunteer firefighters," he said.
"These are issues that need looking at and what we know now is there's a problem here.
"People shouldn't have to choose between going and helping their community and missing out on their basic income.
"They still need to pay their rent, they still need to buy food, and they still need to look after their family and their kids."
Mr Albanese was disappointed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to not hold an urgent Council of Australian Governments meeting where this issue and other bushfire preparedness issues could be addressed.
"Disaster preparedness is a national issue which deserves national leadership," he said.
"Unfortunately, leadership is not what we see from the Prime Minister, who continue to bury his head in the sand, ignoring the warnings and pleas from experts, scientists and communities."
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud has met with all his state and territory counterparts as recently as November 20 and they met regularly to discuss exactly these matters and this was an established process for future planning for bushfires and other emergencies.
"The State Government gets everything they request from the Commonwealth and there is a national co-ordinated process for requests to be made up to the Commonwealth for that assistance, whether that is of a logistics and support arrangement," Mr Morrison said.
"That's what was intended to be set up and that is what is operating and I'm pleased with the way those arrangements are being worked out and if there is any other matter that would need to be addressed, it would be raised with the Commonwealth, because there is a direct line to make sure that happens."
Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the work of our firefighters, paid and volunteers, should be highly praised.
"I'm always willing to consider measures that will make life easier for our fireys and I'm willing to have the necessary conversations with various levels of government about these issues," he said.