Volunteer body refutes minister’s claims

Zach RelphHarvey-Waroona Reporter

The State’s leading volunteer bushfire organisation has refuted claims the Labor Government will not support the creation of an independent rural bushfire service, branding it as speculation.

Labor’s commitment to a standalone bushfire body is still in limbo, after Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan was quoted as questioning how it would be funded.

The comments worried volunteer firefighters who advocated for the service since Euan Ferguson made the recommendation after an inquiry into last year’s fatal Waroona-Yarloop blaze.

Speaking to the Harvey-Waroona Reporter, Association of Volunteer Bushfire Brigades WA president Dave Gossage said the claims were “premature” and he believed Labor would support Mr Ferguson’s 17 recommendations.

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“The Labor Government has agreed to implement all of the Ferguson Report findings, including that of establishing a rural fire service,” Mr Gossage said.

“The fact is, all the parties haven’t got together yet.

“Even we (the association) haven’t had the opportunity to discuss various models and ideas the volunteers want to put forward.”

Mr Ferguson proposed forming a rural bushfire service, which is either independent or a sub-department of Department of Fire and Emergency Services, in his review of last January’s fire.

The former Liberal Government had backed the recommendation and proposed to base the service in Collie prior to the State Election in March.

Mr Gossage said the newly-elected Labor Government had not told the association it would not support the body and he hoped it would be implemented.

“We made a commitment to Fran Logan we want to work with him collaboratively to get the best outcome for the community,” Mr Gossage said.

“It’s about getting what’s right for the community and getting the best bang for buck.”

Harvey shire president Tania Jackson said a rural bushfire service had been supported by volunteer brigades and it would benefit country residents.

Efforts by the Reporter to get a comment from Mr Logan have to date been unsuccessful.

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