Firefighters’ dispute claims minister’s scalp

The state’s CFA board has been sacked and Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett resigned on Friday after they refused to sign the proposed enterprise bargaining agreement.

The CFA board was sacked despite volunteers getting a Supreme Court injunction on Friday, preventing the board from signing the deal until court sits on 22 June.

Environment Minister Lisa Neville said Minister Garrett spoke to Premier Daniel Andrews prior to a unanimous cabinet meeting on the agreement.

“Despite the changes that have been made to the agreement and the submission, (Ms Garrett) felt she was unable to agree and resigned prior to the cabinet,” Ms Neville said.

A new CFA board is expected to be appointed shortly. Mr Andrews said volunteer and career firefighters had said they were sick of being used as a ‘political football’ and wanted the focus back on fighting fires and keeping communities safe.

The government has appointed Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley to oversee the implementation of the agreement to protect the role of volunteers.

In a statement Mr Andrews said concerns raised by the CFA had been resolved including diversity, the ‘seven on the fire ground’ with the CFA and UFU committing to work together on the rollout of 350 new firefighters and a consultation and dispute resolution.

“I’m not having this drag on for another 1000 days – because it’s not safe and that’s not fair,” Mr Andrews said.

Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins said the independent umpire had made recommendations which were fair and balanced and would protect the important role of volunteers.

Deputy Premier James Merlino has taken on the emergency services portfolio.