The peak body for WA’s largest emergency service – the Volunteer Bush Fire Service – has called on Premier Mark McGowan to immediately replace the employment contract of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm due to expire in March 2019 with a 5-year contract.

In a letter sent to the Premier Mark McGowan as Minister for Public Sector Management last Friday, the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) explained that the rationale for the request is threefold:

  1. The AVBFB currently views Mr Klemm as the best person for the job.
  2. A lack of tenure for any senior decision-maker can create the perception the individual is not fully supported by government and/or inhibit their willingness to provide frank and fearless advice contrary to government ideology.
  3. The current expiry date means either contract renewal negotiations or a recruitment process will be occurring at the height of the southwest bushfire season. Given the challenges that already exist, any hiccup in either process could distract the Department and risk the safety of our invaluable emergency services volunteers.

The AVBFB said its request to immediately replace Mr Klemm’s unusual 18-month contract was based on its understanding that the bulk of the special work cited to justify the initial terms has been completed and waiting until February 2019 to question the Commissioner’s suitability for the critical leadership role creates risks that far outweigh any of bringing it forward to now.

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