To ensure the facts are clear regarding the GWN News story below (published last night), the outlet contacted the Association yesterday seeking comment on this question asked in Parliament on Thursday.
For the record:
- The AVBFB has verifiable records of many telephone conversations, emails and meetings with Minister Logan’s Office, the Premier’s Office, the Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Services, the Executive Director of the Rural Fire Division and other senior DFES staff in which the Association explicitly shared its concerns about aspects of the announcements on 13 April and offered help to fix the problems.
- The Minister told Parliament on 8 May 2018 “I have been out on the road over the last two weeks, and I have spoken to 29 shires and cities and 153 brigades through the south west, the great southern and the wheatbelt. Every single one of them applauds what we have done.“
- In response to an open letter the AVBFB sent to Members of Parliament on Tuesday 15 May 2018 explaining some of the unresolved issues, the Minister told ABC Radio the next day, “I’ve made that clear to the 150 brigades I’ve spoken to in the last 3 weeks and in 30 towns and cities across Western Australia and no one opposed me when I raised that issue. No one opposed me.“
- As well as the many phone conversations, emails and meetings the AVBFB has had with the Ministers most senior advisers explaining the significant issues we have with the RFD model and offering help to fix them, the Collie Mail published an article on 19 April 2018 naming a local volunteer who openly criticised the plan directly to the Minister then walked out of the meeting in disgust.
- As well as the many phone conversations, emails and meetings the AVBFB has had with the Ministers most senior advisers explaining the significant issues we have with the RFD model and offering help to fix them, the Esperance Express published an article on 16 April titled “Rural Fire Division, Cascade Scaddan report author expresses concern despite praise for increased mitigation funds” in which local volunteers raise concerns about the Rural Fire Division model the government has delivered.
- The AVBFB has received many and emails from volunteers, some of whom were at meetings the Minister held in the Southwest, Great Southern and Wheatbelt, expressing concern about what has been delivered, explaining that they did not raise their concerns directly with the Minister either because they were not given enough notice to attend the meeting, there was not enough time to think about what the Minister had said before he left the meeting or they were not given enough detail at the time to know what to ask the Minister.
- The Minister’s office contacted the AVBFB yesterday afternoon after the Minister had told GWN that he would be seeking a meeting and agreed on next Friday evening.
Regarding the location of the RFD/Bushfire Centre of Excellence
- The AVBFB would positively and collaboratively participate in discussion regarding the government’s preferred location for the Rural Fire Division and/or Bushfire Centre of Excellence. The lack of consultation with volunteers and apparent preference for the views of the Union is our primary concern here.
- The AVBFB supported the government during the election process after it committed to implement “all” of the recommendations of the Ferguson Report, one of which was to base the Leadership of a Rural Fire Service in regional WA.
- We note that some Local Governments have gone to great effort to offer their assistance to government and believe strongly that every such proposal should be given strong consideration with input from expert stakeholders such as Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade members.
Please find below the TV news article published by GWN last evening.