James Purcell is set to spike state government's CFA bill

Decision time: Member for Western Victoria James Purcell will controversially vote against the state government's bill to restructure fire services. Picture: Amy Paton

Decision time: Member for Western Victoria James Purcell will controversially vote against the state government's bill to restructure fire services. Picture: Amy Paton

MEMBER for Western Victoria James Purcell has declared he will not support the state government’s bill to split the Country Fire Authority, effectively blocking it.

The Port Fairy-based, Vote 1 Jobs MP’s vote in the Upper House was crucial for the bill to become law.

It has already passed the Lower House.

Mr Purcell revealed his decision after a series of meetings with volunteer firefighters across south-west Victoria in the past two weeks.

“We won’t be supporting the legislation on the basis that all of the community groups that we’ve met with have said that the lack of consultation really was a concern for them,” Mr Purcell said.

“There are 1200 brigades in the state, and I think the ones that I’ve met with will be representative of the 1200.

“I think if I’d met with all of the 1200 they’d all be saying the same thing – that the legislation has been developed and put forward without any consultation and without their best interests at heart.”

The proposal would see paid and volunteer firefighters split, creating a new Fire Rescue Victoria.

It also included presumptive cancer compensation rights for both career and volunteer firefighters.

Greens Upper House MPs have indicated they would support the changes, while Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and Democratic Labour representatives were likely to vote against them.

The Sex Party’s Fiona Patten said she was still deciding.

Mr Purcell met with Emergency Services Minister James Merlino and Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday to inform them of his decision.

“The government were willing to consider changes that we put up, but there were a lot of changes and the belief that they would need to go back and do some real consultation,” Mr Purcell said.

“Otherwise they will destroy the CFA if they ram it through.”

The bill is due to be considered in the Upper House this week.

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