The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has called on the Andrews Labor Government to ensure a fair share for Gippsland South Country Fire Authority (CFA) brigades in the upcoming state budget.
Mr O’Brien said the state government had made a commitment back in May to invest a share of more than $100 million for the critical upgrades of CFA and SES stations and he was determined to make sure Gippsland South saw its fair share of that money.
“I’ve raised the need for station upgrades and rebuilds for the CFA in Foster, Mirboo North, Yarram and Winnindoo with the Minister for Emergency Services on many occasions and next month’s budget must include these urgent works,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I recently took the opportunity in Parliament to again ask the Minister to ensure this funding goes where it is desperately needed here in Gippsland South.
“I highlighted to the Minister that the CFA stations in these towns are not fit-for-purpose and simply not safe.
“The stations are small, out-dated, old and insufficient to allow these valuable emergency services to protect their communities.
“I’ve seen firsthand where chips have been taken out of the bricks on side of the doors where the trucks enter because they are simply too narrow and weren’t built to accommodate the wider modern fire trucks in use today.
“The narrowness of the stations is in itself an OH&S issue as volunteers are not left with enough room to get changed.
“Our volunteers deserve better than this and it’s time the Andrews Labor Government recognised this.”
Mr O’Brien said he had since received a response from the Minister that indicated no acknowledgement of the dire needs of these particular stations, but said a prioritised list of project nominations was being sought from relevant agencies.
“The Minister advised that only $20 million of the $100 million investment would actually be available for fire station upgrades and that that $20 million would also be shared amongst SES, Lifesaving Victoria and Marine Search and Rescue.
“It’s really disappointing to see such a low figure set aside for these crucial works and demonstrates a real lack of understanding of the importance of such volunteer services in our region.
“The reality is that we need about $10 million for these four Gippsland South-based CFA units alone.
“These projects simply must be funded and I will continue to fight for them.”