Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and it is in relation to Country Fire Authority (CFA) funding cuts. This year the government has cut $41 million out of the Victorian CFA budget and $24 million out of the budget of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. I believe the decision has placed not only firefighters but communities at risk, and these cuts have left the CFA with — —
The PRESIDENT — Order! I ask the minister whether he is picking up on Ms Tierney’s matter, the minister it is directed to and the substance of the matter.
Hon. G. K. Rich-Phillips — Not the minister but the substance.
The PRESIDENT — The minister assures me that he is across the issue that the member is raising.
Ms TIERNEY — That is very heartening. The CFA funding cuts have reduced the capacity for the important work that needs to be done over the firefighting season. My electorate covers the Barwon south-western area but also the Grampians, and what we have found is that in the Barwon south-west region we have had more fire activity this season than in the last four years. We have had significant fires around Portland, and we have had significant fires in the Grampians CFA district as well.
We believe the current cuts jeopardise the safety of Victorians. If this is not rectified in the state budget, it will send a very poor message not just in terms of those people who are volunteers and those who are professional full-time firefighters but also completely the wrong message to those communities that have battled so hard over the last four months. We know that fuel reduction has been limited. There has also been limited rain in the Barwon-south western region, to the extent that the fire bans will continue until 1 May this year. I call on the minister this evening to ensure that there is some responsibility in the forthcoming state budget and that there is a restitution of the moneys that have been cut from both of those budgets.