The new Country Fire Authority board’s failure to sign off on the controversial industrial agreement at its latest meeting proves it has concerns, the Victorian Opposition says.
The Government-appointed members met on Monday, in what the CFA said was part of its normal schedule.
“A range of matters were discussed,” the board said in a short statement.
“CFA is continuing to work through the proposed agreement and is consulting with all relevant stakeholders. A decision will be reached in due course.”
The former board was sacked because it did not back a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement put forward by the United Firefighters Union and supported by the Victorian Government, in an attempt to end the bitter three-year dispute.
Its chief executive and chief officer resigned, along with then-emergency services minister Jane Garrett.
One of the main concerns of volunteers is the deal would give too much power to the United Firefighters Union, which has been negotiating on behalf of professional CFA firefighters.
The Victorian Government said ahead of the meeting the board would vote on the proposal “shortly”.
The Opposition’s emergency services spokesman, Brad Battin, said no decision meant the new board must have concerns about the proposal.
“This does vindicate the last board’s view and it also ensures the Victorians know that Daniel Andrews is making decisions on behalf of his Government and his union, rather than behalf of Victorian people, community safety and our fire season ahead,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews’ comments on June 15 to say that ‘this needed to be fixed and I fixed it’ are proving to be nothing more than misleading spin.
But Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said there was nothing to suggest the new board had concerns over the industrial agreement.
“The board is going through the proper process of considering the agreement,” he said.
“They’ll resolve it in due course and then it will go to a vote and then to the commission. The Opposition is desperate for this dispute to continue into the next bushfire season.”
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