A re-elected Turnbull Coalition Government will use all available federal powers to stop Bill Shorten’s deal to hand over the Victorian Country Fire Authority to the United Firefighters Union.
Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews did a deal with the UFU to give it control of the CFA through a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement made under the Fair Work Act.
The Coalition has already pledged to amend the Fair Work Act to protect the CFA and prevent the Act from being misused in this manner again.
In addition, a re-elected Turnbull Coalition Government will use powers under the Act to help prevent the EBA from coming into effect.
The federal Minister for Employment has a range of powers to intervene in proceedings before the Fair Work Commission and the Courts. Under the Fair Work Act, the Commission cannot approve an EBA that contains discriminatory terms. The proposed EBA currently includes discriminatory terms. The Victorian Government’s own legal advice confirms this.
The Coalition will use all of these powers to help prevent any unlawful or discriminatory EBA from coming into effect.
First, as Minister for Employment I will seek leave to intervene in the Fair Work Commission to oppose the approval of the EBA on the grounds that it contains discriminatory terms.
Second, in the event that such an EBA is approved by the Commission, I will use my powers under the Fair Work Act to request a review of the decision by a Full Bench of the Commission.
Third, I will then intervene in any such review in the public interest to argue against the approval of the EBA.
Furthermore, the EBA in its current form, and the process surrounding it, are also open to legal challenge in the Federal Court. I will also use my powers as Minister to intervene in such a proceeding, in the public interest.
Bill Shorten’s claims that this is a “state issue” have been completely discredited. This issue has arisen because Labor is attempting to misuse a federal law – the Fair Work Act – to impose a union takeover of the CFA. The same Act clearly gives the federal Government a range of powers to intervene in this matter.
Bill Shorten is at the centre of this issue and cannot escape his responsibility. He met with UFU boss Peter Marshall in his Canberra office in April and did a deal to give the union control of the CFA after it had threatened to campaign for the Greens in inner-city Melbourne seats.
Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers are the human cost of Bill Shorten’s deal with the UFU. Only the Coalition will protect and respect the CFA. Bill Shorten and Labor will destroy it.