Thursday 18th May 2017



The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) has called on Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to immediately sack Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Brad Battin after his systematic smears against Forest Firefighters who fought the Black Saturday fires.


AWU Victorian Secretary Ben Davis said Mr Battin’s claims that professional firefighters did not reach fires on Black Saturday for five and a half hours were massively offensive, and only compounded by his subsequent statement that he was talking about the Bunyip fire only.


“Forest Firefighters, many of whom live in his own electorate, were at the Bunyip fire not only on Black Saturday but in the days leading up to it,” Mr Davis said.


“Mr Battin displays his lack of understanding of his portfolio and the challenges faced by all firefighters with his absurd allegations,” he said.


“He needs to be shuffled out of the Shadow Ministry and he needs to get out there and apologise to the brave men and women he has smeared.”


Mr Davis said Forest Firefighters employed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria continued to be the unsung heroes of the bush.


“These men and women perform extraordinary service for the state. They not only fight fires, they deal with all manner of natural disasters and crises and save countless lives in the process,” he said.


“And yet, in spite of it all, for some unknown reason, Forest Firefighters are not classified as emergency service workers, even though they regularly work shoulder-to-shoulder with other fire services.”


Premier Daniel Andrews and Deputy Premier James Merlino had failed to deliver on promises to correct this anomaly, which would mean Forest Firefighters would not only have their role dignified, but would have access to Emergency Services Super.


“Emergency Services Super (ESS) is designed for emergency service workers in matters including death and disability payouts. Under current arrangements Forest Firefighters and their families receive only a fraction of the amount they would under the ESS,” Mr Davis said.


“These are overwhelmingly regional workers, getting a very raw deal. They deserve respect, recognition and they certainly deserve a complete apology from Mr Battin.”