Push to expand cancer compo
Tasmanian unions and workers are outraged that cancer compensation laws to not extend to Parks and Wildlife firefighters.
Professional firefighters in Tasmania automatically qualify for compensation if they are diagnosed with certain types of cancer under legislation introduced in 2013.
But the same level of compensation does not apply to the 250 firefighters working for Parks and Wildlife and the 100 at Sustainable Timbers Tasmania.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) wants the legislation to be changed.
“The Government is accepting through this legislation that there is a higher risk of getting cancer if you are a firefighter,” CPSU spokesperson Tom Lynch said.
“Then says to a large group of its workforce we are not going to extended the legislation to you.”
The state’s Liberal government has legislation in the Upper House to make more volunteer firefighters eligible for the cancer compensation, and the Labor opposition says it will try to amend that bill to cover Park and Wildlife and Sustainable Timbers workers.
“We will be moving an amendments to extend the provision to cover those people who work in the state service for whom fighting fires is part of their job,” Labor MP Michelle O'Byrne said.
“Whether they be in parks or the wider public sector.
“We know that those people are at as much risk as anyone else fighting fires.”
Emergency Services Minister Rene Hidding said the Government is open to expanding the presumptive cancer laws.
“The Government fully supports the work of these groups and is open to this, but not before it has been properly modelled and costed which we fully intend to do,” Mr Hidding said.
But the United Firefighters Union (UFU) is concerned the new legislation will actually make it more difficult for both volunteer and Parks and Wildlife firefighters to access compensation, because some of the evidence supporting the legislation was based on urban firefighting research.
“The system that the previous Minister David O'Byrne put in place was structured to give certainty would not fail, but would be successful,” said UFU Australia National Secretary Peter Marshall.
“The bill that is being proposed is no more than a political stunt.
“To simply put the Parks and Wildlife firefighters into the current system, you are setting them up for failure, because the science underpinning the legislation is not applicable.”