Federal Labor applauds the announcement by the Victorian state government that the former Australian Emergency Management Institute in Mount Macedon, cruelly shut last year by the Abbott-Turnbull government, will be reopened.
The Victorian Emergency Management Institute, as it will now be known, will be able to resume the important role it played in training and development for Victoria's emergency services, including the Country Fire Authority. Its closure in June 2015 saw up to 60 people lose their jobs and has made it far harder for volunteers and emergency services workers not just in Victoria but from around Australia to do their jobs well. The short residential training courses offered by the Institute were considered highly valuable for those who were able to attend.
The closure of the Institute and failure to replace its services in any meaningful way shows the absolute hypocrisy of the Turnbull Government when it comes to our emergency services. Mr Turnbull and Michaelia Cash are happy to use CFA volunteers for political point scoring in their anti-union crusade. But when it comes to providing the basic services they need, they are just not interested.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Mark Dreyfus said: "I congratulate Dan Andrews and James Merlino on stepping in to address this severe dereliction of duty to emergency services volunteers by the Abbott-Turnbull Government. Everyone knows proper training is needed to do any job properly, but Mr Turnbull and Michaelia Cash were happy for our emergency services to go without. It is shameful, and it is right that it should be fixed."
Shadow Assistant Minister for Workplace Relations and Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said: "The Turnbull Government isn't interested in helping volunteers, its only interest is politics. The Turnbull Government has been peddling mistruths to our brave firefighting volunteers from the outset and Labor will continue to hold the government to account for those lies."
Ms Chesters said it also defied belief that the Abbott Turnbull Government dismantled a centre of excellence for natural disaster and emergency management that was based in the heart of a bushfire-prone area.
"The local community has been anxious since the Liberals shut this vital facility," Ms Chesters said.