If the WA Nationals really wanted to help our emergency services — and our regional communities — they would direct their energies at their Federal counterparts.
I’ve asked them repeatedly to join the McGowan Government’s fight for reliable regional telecommunications, more aerial firefighting fleet resources, and greater flexibility for our national disaster recovery funding arrangements.
Instead, the Nationals waste time politicising WA’s emergency services.
Their latest ploy is over the longstanding Code of Conduct for Department of Fire and Emergency Services volunteers and career officers.
The DFES commissioner is legally bound to have a code for the good operation of brigades, groups or units.
That covers who is allowed on departmental premises and the appropriate flow of information.
The commissioner’s recent amendment to the code prohibits politicians from all sides interfering with confidential departmental matters.
That’s his prerogative. Misinformation undermines, and in most cases, it’s best resolved between the parties concerned.
I have travelled more than 75,000km around WA meeting with thousands of volunteers.
Trust me, there are no shrinking violets.
If someone has a concern or idea, they certainly let me know.
However, there are countless avenues for concerns to be raised externally.
Whistleblower laws protect someone if they voice a legitimate concern, and they can go to the Corruption and Crime Commission or State Ombudsman.
There are also volunteer support officers in the regions who help with volunteer administrative duties and to pass on any concerns or ideas.
The DFES commissioner also has volunteer liaison officers for volunteers to directly raise any issues.
I have introduced a ministerial volunteer advisory forum to hear from volunteers and we have held numerous public forums in the last three years.
There are also several representative associations who meet with DFES and myself regularly.
In my travels, there has been one constant — politicising emergency services internally or externally can drive away volunteers.
So National Party, turn your politics inwards.
Join our State’s fight for the Federal resources that will support our regional communities and their volunteers.
That’s a worthy political cause.