Opposition leader Matthew Guy says presumptive rights legislation aiming to ensure career and volunteer firefighters have equal access to cancer compensation is the only part of contentious fire services reform legislation that is necessary.
The Opposition leader, visiting Shepparton yesterday, plans to fast track the presumptive rights legislation by introducing a private member’s bill.
The party broke from convention to vote down the Victorian Government’s Country Fire Authority bill, a move described as unprecedented.
Two Liberal MPs were provided a pairing by Labor to be absent from parliament on Good Friday for religious reasons, but they walked back into the Legislative Council at the 11th hour to vote against the legislation.
State member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said she had been shocked to hear of the events in the upper house and felt there might be ‘‘bad blood’’ for the remainder of the year.
Mr Guy explained the Opposition plans to split the government’s fire reform bill to introduce the presumptive rights legislation back in as a private member’s bill; a part of the legislation the party ‘‘thinks it is so important to pass’’.
‘‘It’s the only part of the fire package that we think is absolutely essential,’’ Mr Guy said yesterday.
‘‘The presumptive rights, the cancer legislation, that needs to go through parliament.’’
Ms Sheed said it was distressing to see the issue used as a political football, that angst had been caused to CFA members on the ground around the issue and urged for dispute to be over to instead ‘‘get on with our job’’.