A bitterly fought dispute over union control in Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) is threatening Labor’s chances in key seats in the federal election.

Key points

  • CFA dispute set to have implications in federal election
  • Volunteer firefighters threaten to take their anger out on federal Labor
  • Liberal Party campaigning hard on the issue

The industrial relations row has already felled a state minister and the CFA’s board, as the United Firefighters Union (UFU) presses its case for a new enterprise agreement.

Even though it is a state issue, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed in, and many of the CFA’s 60,000 volunteer firefighters are vowing to take their anger out on Labor in the federal election to punish their Victorian counterparts.

Among them is Wye River CFA captain Roy Moriarty, who led the battle against the devastating Christmas bushfires on the Great Ocean Road.

“I’ve voted Labor all my life and it’s almost gut-wrenching to think that, ‘no, I’m not going to vote Labor this time’,” he told 7.30.

These words, reluctantly uttered, will send a shiver through the spines of Labor’s numbers men in Canberra.

The party is aiming to win key marginal seats in the state, and needs to retain others, if it is to form government.

The workplace agreement dispute reached a climax two weeks ago when Premier Daniel Andrews sacked the CFA board, and Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett resigned, along with CFA CEO Lucinda Nolan.

The board and the minister opposed the enterprise bargaining agreement