Senator Cash promises to render CFA agreement “ineffective”

by Miklos Bolza16 Aug 2016
Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, has promised the Coalition will annul the Country Fire Authority’s (CFA’s) controversial enterprise bargaining agreement.
 
With the CFA Board approving the deal on Friday night (12 August), Cash penned a letter on Saturday to Andrew Ford, chief executive officer of the Volunteers Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) which has long opposed the new agreement.
 
Cash promised that the government would address any issues brought up by the CFA deal by amending the Fair Work Act. The matter will be introduced when parliament resumes on 30 August.
 
The changes will prevent enterprise agreements from compromising operations of volunteer-based services bodies or overriding state legislation on these types of volunteer organisations, Cash said.
 
“The amendment will render ineffective any such terms in the proposed agreement, regardless of whether the agreement comes into effect before or after the amendment is passed.”
 
Cash also promised to intervene against Fair Work Commission approval of any agreement which contains “unlawful or discriminatory terms”.
 
“I will also use my powers as Minister to intervene in any appropriate legal challenge to the agreement in the Federal Court, in the event of such a challenge.”
 
Talking to HC, a VFBV spokesperson expressed the organisation’s appreciation of Senator Cash’s letter.
 
“It’s a continuation of the offer they made during the federal election campaign. We were pleased by that offer at the time. We’re above party politics but we welcome support from all political parties.”
 
As for the approval of the CFA enterprise agreement, this was “a betrayal of CFA, its organisation, its structure, its very nature and certainly a betrayal of the volunteers,” he added.
 
The VFBV has pledged to continue legal action with the organisation already having lodged a statement of claim last week, the spokesperson said.
 
“Because the CFA is established under the CFA Act, it doesn’t have the power to approve an EBA containing clauses that are opposed to the CFA Act itself. In other words, the CFA board can’t contract out of its own statutory requirements.”
 
HC contacted the CFA but failed to receive comment prior to publication.
 
Related stories:
 
CFA to vote on controversial industrial agreement
 
Fire chief raises “serious concerns” in ongoing union battle
 
Senator Cash on the future of IR in Australia

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