A proposed law restructuring Victoria's fire services has been referred to a parliamentary select committee, and will not be put to a vote until parliament resumes in August. This follows the expression of "concerns" about the law by conservative crossbenchers in the upper house.
The proposed law would end the antiquated situation where regional cities and a large part of the Melbourne metropolitan area are covered by the Country Fire Authority (CFA), and receive an inferior service.
It would also convert the CFA into a volunteer-only organisation, while all professional firefighters would be employed by a new body called Fire Rescue Victoria.
This organisational separation between professional and volunteer firefighters should prevent Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV), which claims to represent volunteer firefighters, from interfering in negotiations for the enterprise agreement covering professional firefighters. VFBV's leadership is very hostile to the United Firefighters Union (UFU) and has opposed the proposed enterprise agreement, which includes provisions for consultation with the union on a range of issues.
The UFU has run a campaign of radio and TV advertising to support the changes.