Brandis stops Labor meeting with AEMI staff

The Abbott Government has prevented Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC from visiting the Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI).

After almost 60 years the AEMI’s training facility at Mount Macedon will close in 2015 after their funding was cut in the Budget. The 60 staff at the AEMI can either move to Canberra where the ‘virtual’ facility will be based, or take redundancy.

“Last week I asked the Attorney-General’s permission to visit the AEMI to discuss the impact of the Budget with the staff and listen to their concerns,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“Initially the Attorney-General’s Office said they were pleased to facilitate a visit, but required more notice. My office then requested a visit in a weeks’ time.

“A week later the Attorney-General’s Office changed their mind and claim my meeting staff would set a very undesirable precedent.

“Senator Brandis’s claimed commitment to free speech clearly doesn’t extend to workers whose jobs are in danger.”

“Our local community is deeply concerned about the closure of the AEMI facility in Mount Macedon,” Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said.

“The loss of this facility will be a significant blow to the staff and the emergency services volunteers they train.

“The staff at the AEMI are emergency management experts and the closure of this site will mean the loss to the region of all the knowledge and experience they hold.

“Many AEMI workers based in Mount Macedon simply aren’t going to be in a position to uproot their lives and move to Canberra.

“I’m afraid for these highly skilled workers who face redundancy in an already tough local job market.”

Labor calls on the Abbott Government to reconsider their plan to close this facility that means so much to the emergency management community and wider Victoria.