Motion - Member for Gembrook
Thursday 25th May 2017
Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — I rise to make a contribution to the debate on this motion and point out that the minister who has actually moved this censure motion has absolutely no credibility when it comes to this. He is part of the protection racket for the member for Tarneit and the member for Melton, two people who held the highest offices in this house, who were tasked with upholding the credibility of this house and upholding the credibility of the Westminster system in this state, and they rorted the system. They are nothing but rorters. The Deputy Premier, the Minister for Emergency Services, is part of the protection racket for the member for Melton and the member for Tarneit.
Who else has credibility on this particular issue? Let us go back to what the Premier said about Donna Bauer. That was a really high moment in history, was it not?
An honourable member — What did he say again? Did he apologise for that?
Mr WALSH — No, he has never ever apologised for that. You go and ask Donna Bauer what they did to her when he said those things about her. She was fighting cancer when the Premier stooped to that low level. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about those on the other side who moved this motion having absolutely no credibility.
If you go to the editorial of the Herald Sun:
If you thought this Victorian Premier could not possibly stoop any lower in his dogmatic push to deliver more power to the United Firefighters Union and undermine volunteer CFA members, his decision to fold a cancer compensation bill into legislation to establish a new Fire Rescue Victoria agency shows there are no limits to his arrogance, contempt and autocracy.
It is perhaps Mr Andrews’s most shameful act in a shameful two and a half years in power.
There is no hiding the Premier’s atrocious tactics by linking the proposed legislation …
That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about the government having a motion to try and cover up and hide what they are doing to the volunteers in Victoria. They are running this motion just to cover up the fact that they have absolute contempt for the volunteer firefighters here in Victoria. They are just absolutely trashing the 60 000 volunteers that we have here in Victoria in the Country Fire Authority (CFA), absolutely trashing them.
That is to say nothing of what the Deputy Premier, the Minister for Emergency Services, did to Joe Buffone. He said yesterday he was happy to take the money, but he is defending the member for Tarneit who took the money and he is defending the member for Melton who took the money. They are actually making sure they are defended, but he would not stand up for the chief fire officer when he was trying to do the right thing.
Also in the debate yesterday, the issue of Peter Rau, someone who was bullied out of the force who actually — —
Mr Merlino interjected.
Mr WALSH — You said it was not about that at all, and look what happened.
The SPEAKER — Order! Through the Chair.
Mr WALSH — He was bullied out of the system, and we have got WorkCover now investigating that, because there is no limit to what this government will do to support Peter Marshall and the United Firefighters Union (UFU). Everyone asks: what has Peter Marshall got on the Premier that he would trash 60 000 volunteers and he would wipe out the CFA? What does Peter Marshall have on the Premier of this state? What leverage does he have that he would do what he is doing on this particular issue?
Not only was it Joe Buffone, not only was it Peter Rau, but Lucinda Nolan was recruited as the new CFA CEO to improve the culture there and to do the right thing. What happened to Lucinda Nolan? She was forced out. She was bullied out. What happened to the CFA board when they actually stood up? The CFA board has an act of Parliament they actually have to govern the CFA under. They were not going to be bullied into not complying with the act, so what happened? ‘Down the road, mate. If you don’t agree with me, down the road, out the door’. Those sorts of things are what has been going on over a long period of time.
We discussed this yesterday, but if you talk to the volunteers anywhere around Victoria, they are absolutely disgusted with their minister. We opened a new fire station in Echuca a couple of months ago, and there was not even an apology from anyone from the government. There were invitations sent to members of the government to actually come and open the fire station. Not only were they a no‑show, not only would they not come and open the new fire station, but there was not one of them who had the decency to even apologise that they — —
Mr Merlino interjected.
The SPEAKER — Order! The Deputy Premier!
Mr WALSH — I am saying this is about the Minister for Emergency Services’ credibility and his lack of support for the volunteers in this state. If we want to talk about Black Saturday, we all know the absolute tragedy of Black Saturday. I do not think we need to remind anyone about the lives that were lost, the tragedy that was caused or the pain and grief of all those families that were affected. I do not think anyone needs to be reminded about that. We are very, very well aware of that. As members of Parliament and ministers on both sides of the house who have been involved in the Black Saturday recovery and working with those communities, we do not need to be reminded about that tragedy. It was absolutely tragic, and it will go down in this state as similar to the 1939 fires. I want to put on record my support for the volunteers and the paid firefighters for what they did on Black Saturday. I think they all rose to the occasion, as the volunteers and the paid firefighters do, and we are very appreciative of what they did over that particular time.
Mr Pakula interjected.
The SPEAKER — Order! The Attorney‑General will come to order.
Mr WALSH — But the key to this is that all those volunteers — and there were many strike teams from my area that came down to Black Saturday and the other fires around Victoria because there were other fires on that day as well — was the surge capacity. They were the people that came along and gave up work for four or five days at a time to go and be part of those strike teams. And what is happening now? Absolutely no respect from the minister at the table. Absolutely no respect from the Andrews government for them as volunteers and what they do. All they want to do is trash them. Everything the government says about firefighters is all about the paid firefighters. I actually have not heard the minister stick up for the volunteers at all. He talks about who is sticking up for who. It would be good if the Minister for Emergency Services actually stuck up for volunteers once in his life.
Mr Merlino interjected.
Mr WALSH — And I might remind the minister he was in a government for 11 years that did nothing about this particular issue. All those volunteers that gave up their time and fought the actual fires on Black Saturday and then went on the strike teams to help do all the cleaning up, all the community groups that went down to help do the clean‑up — and there were thousands of people that went into those areas to help do the clean‑up, help do the refencing, help with all those issues — and what does this government do? It just wants to trash all of them.
For some reason Peter Marshall has something over the Premier, has something over the Andrews government, that they will not acknowledge the volunteers and they will not support the volunteers. They just want to trash them. So if you are talking about credibility in this place, the Minister for Emergency Services has absolutely no credibility. He started at a very low level with his comments about the protective services officers, saying that they are only plastic cops when they are here actually to protect us and this place. They are here at train stations to protect our commuters. They do a great job. What does this minister at the table think of them? He thinks they are just plastic cops, and he is continuing that attitude now that he is the Minister for Emergency Services when it comes to the volunteers in this state. He will not stick up for them. I could go through a whole list of volunteers who have been quoted over the past couple of days. We have legislation before this house to tear apart the CFA, to put it under the power of the United Firefighters Union and Peter Marshall.
An honourable member interjected.
Mr WALSH — No, it is not, actually; this is about giving Peter Marshall power over the fire services right across this state. As I said yesterday, any senior members of the emergency services that believe the sun is going to come up after this legislation is passed and everything will be the same for the volunteers believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden, still believe in Santa Claus and put their stockings out on Christmas Eve. I absolutely oppose this motion by the member for Monbulk. He has no credibility at all in moving this motion.
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