GIPPSLAND South MP Danny O’Brien has promised to continue fighting for critical upgrades to local CFA stations in the upcoming budget, despite a disheartening update from the Minister for Emergency Services.
Mr O’Brien said the state government committed in May to invest a share of more than $100 million for the critical upgrades of CFA and SES stations.
“The minister advised that only $20 million of the $100 million investment would actually be available for fire station upgrades and that that $20 million would also be shared amongst SES, Lifesaving Victoria and Marine Search and Rescue,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It’s really disappointing to see such a low figure set aside for these crucial works and demonstrates a real lack of understanding of the importance of such volunteer services in our region. The reality is that we need about $10 million for these four Gippsland South-based CFA units alone.
“These projects simply must be funded and I will continue to fight for them.
“I’ve raised the need for station upgrades and rebuilds for the CFA in Foster, Mirboo North, Yarram and Winnindoo with the Minister for Emergency Services on many occasions, and next month’s budget must include these urgent works.
“I recently took the opportunity in parliament to again ask the minister to ensure this funding goes where it is desperately needed here in Gippsland South.
“I highlighted to the Minister that the CFA stations in these towns are not fit-for-purpose and simply not safe. The stations are small, out-dated, old and insufficient to allow these valuable emergency services to protect their communities.”
The local MP said he had seen firsthand where chips had been taken out of the bricks on the sides of the doors where the trucks enter because they were too narrow and weren’t built to accommodate the wider modern fire trucks.
“The narrowness of the stations is in itself an OH&S issue as volunteers are not left with enough room to get changed. Our volunteers deserve better than this and it’s time the… government recognised this.”
Mr O’Brien said he had since received a response from the minister that indicated no acknowledgement of the dire needs of these particular stations but said a prioritised list of project nominations was being sought from relevant agencies.