PM backs volunteer firefighters in dispute with union.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to amend the Fair Work Act and back Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers in their dispute with the firefighters union.
Back up. What’s the dispute?
Well, volunteers are concerned about an enterprise bargaining agreement demand to have at least seven paid firefighters on the scene of every incident, and prevent volunteers issuing orders. The proposal would need to be ratified by the state Cabinet, which meets today.
The PM attended a rally in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, where hundreds of volunteer firefighters gathered to protest the proposal.
“It’s an extraordinary assault on fundamental Australian values of community service, of volunteerism,” Mr Turnbull said.
“But if we’re re-elected, we’ll rectify it …. There would be changes to the Fair Work Act that would relate to what would be objectionable or unacceptable clauses in EBAs.”
The United Firefighters Union Victoria said earlier in the week the matter had been politicised and that volunteers acting as incident controllers would still have the capacity to give orders.
Labor to announce more childcare funding.
Federal Labor will today pledge $160 million to tackle child care and after-school care waiting lists.
If elected, Labor would:
- Invest $100 million over three years to expand about 300 childcare services in areas of high demand
- Commit $63.2 million to establish or expand after-school care via grants worth up to $50,000
Didn’t Labor already announce child care changes?
Well, yes. On Sunday Labor made a $3-billion childcare announcement where they pledged to:
- Boost the Child Care Benefit payment by up to $31 per child, per week for 800,000 low and middle-income families
- Lift the childcare rebate cap from $7,500 to $10,000 a year per child to help more than 100,000 families
The Government has dubbed the plan an “unfunded band-aid”.
Money for threatened species.
To coincide with World Environment Day on Sunday, the Coalition promised an additional $5 million to protect threatened animal and plant species in Australia.
It includes funding for nine different conservation programs around the country.
Arts funding boost.
Labor has promised to boost arts funding by $160 million if elected, describing the cash injection as an investment rather than a cost.
Bill Shorten was at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne on Saturday where he promised to dump the Coalition’s controversial Catalyst arts funding program, handing back control of funding decisions, as well as any remaining money, to the independent Australia Council.
The council would get $20 million a year in new funding over four years.
The ABC would receive an extra $60 million to increase local drama production.
Promise to upgrade the Barton Highway.
The Coalition promised $50 million to upgrade the Barton Highway north of Canberra.
The funding won’t guarantee full duplication of the highway but will provide new overtaking lanes on the most dangerous stretches of road.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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