The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) has made comment in response to a question asked recently in Parliament regarding the Volunteer Fuel Card scheme introduced by the last government.
After receiving a question from Liberal Member for South West, Hon Dr Steve Thomas, regarding the future value of Volunteer Fuel Cards for metropolitan and regional brigades, the Treasurer confirmed only that the government was ‘actively considering’ the issue.
AVBFB President Dave Gossage said while clarity of all funding is obviously important, the Association is supportive of the scheme being re-evaluated.
“The AVBFB has had concerns about various aspects of the Volunteer Fuel Card scheme since it was first promised,” Mr Gossage said.
“We welcomed the scheme at the time in the context of it going some way toward recognising the amazing work of WA’s emergency service volunteers.”
“However many of our members were disappointed the money was not allowed to be used by Brigades for the purchase of equipment and services that would have benefited the whole team.”
“We also had concerns about putting the onus of distribution onto one volunteer in each Brigade and the lack of transparency in the overall cost of administering the scheme.”
“And finally, there were issues of equity: tiny brigades close to the city were allocated the same amount as remote or very large, active Brigades with 75 members providing many services to their local communities.”
“Of course, we would be disappointed if any funding for volunteer bush fire brigades was reduced.”
“But in this case, we support the government for taking a little time to evaluate everything that was done and spent in the area of emergency services in the past.”
“We know that large scale change is required to ensure an effective and financially sustainable emergency service for WA and look forward to continuing our work with the Premier and Minister Logan to deliver it,” Mr Gossage said.