Gregory’s thousands of rural fire brigade volunteers have been given only days to have their say on whether they should receive workers compensation coverage for a suite of cancers related to fire exposure.
The LNP planned to give all firefighters – paid and volunteer – lifelong workers compensation coverage, but Labor has introduced a clause in an amendment bill that would require volunteer rural firies to attend 150 fires in 5 years to be eligible. It also places a ten year window on claims by volunteers, even though some of the cancers are slow to develop.
“The legislative review committee has invited submissions from brigades and volunteers, but the invitations went out last Friday (July 24) and submissions close on Thursday August 6 at 4:00 pm,” said Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar MP.
“Many of our Gregory Brigades won’t receive the invitation before submissions have closed and most brigades won’t have their scheduled monthly meeting in that time.
“I am trying to get the word out to as many volunteers as possible to make a submission. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A short email will do. Submissions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to the Research Director, Finance and Administration Committee, Parliament House, George Street Brisbane Qld 4000.”
“We have 36,000 volunteer firefighters in Queensland. In Gregory they are often the only option. At their own risk and often at their own expense, they save lives, they save property and they save wildlife habitat every year. They also save the Queensland taxpayer a fortune. The cost of workers compensation would be minimal by comparison and is the decent thing to do,” he said.
“The LNP introduced a private members bill in June to ensure this was put in place but at the last sitting week Labor slipped a clause into their Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Amendments Bill which treats paid and volunteer firefighters differently. Paid firefighters will get lifelong workers compensation coverage and will only have to attend one fire to become eligible. Volunteers will only be able to make claims in a ten year window and they will have to show they attended 150 fires in a five year period to be eligible for that. This is completely unfair and a very shabby way to treat men and women who have volunteered to protect us,” he said.