*** VFFA MEDIA RELEASE ***
Friday 29th May 2009 00/09-10
The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, New South Wales only association solely representing the volunteers fire fighters in the Rural Fire Service of New South Wales holds in disgust the reported comments of John Maconachie, QC, reported in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 23rd May 2009.
As reported in the Daily Telegraph” NSW government lawyer, John Maconachie, QC, told ACT Chief Justice Terence Higgins “responsibility was not that of Government but of fire fighters, as they were volunteers not employees.
“Statements of this nature from a member of a government legal team placed on court and public record can only make the volunteers of the Rural Fires Service wonder what personal legal position is there if this is the government’s legal stance.
The shadow Minister for Emergency Services Melinda Pavey MLC in a press release dated 26th May 2009 supported the volunteers and clarified the position of Rural Fire Service volunteers by stating “However what the incompetent Labor Government fails to understand is that section 128 of the Rural Fires Act 1997 stipulates that volunteer fire fighters are protected from liability.
“The Act states that a protected person or body which includes ‘the Commissioner and any person acting under the authority of the Commissioner” will not be “subject…to any action, liability, claim or demand'”, Mrs Pavey said.”
The NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons’s press release supporting the volunteers and his statement “Be assured, that all service members have my full and unequivocal commitment to representing most vigorously the interests of all members against any legal proceedings associated with the conduct of our fire fighting and related activities.”
At this point in time it appears that the only body that is not supporting the volunteers is the state government of New South Wales.
The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association calls upon the New South Wales Government and the Minster for Emergency Services to publicly reverse the reported statements by their legal council and reassure the volunteer fire fighters of New South Wales that they are still protected from prosecution according to the Rural Fires Act.
FIRE FIGHTERS ARE WAITING FOR YOUR REPLY ON THIS ISSUE MINISTER STEVE WHAN.
Peter Cannon — President of the VFFA 0427-697-608
John Parry — Media Officer of the VFFA 0408-214-474
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