Ambos join firey protest over cuts

Firefighters and paramedics enjoyed strong public support in Carrum as they highlighted Napthine Government cuts to emergency services.Paramedics and firefighters joined together to present a united front in Carrum last weekend during a protest against state government funding cuts to emergency services. About 150 ambulance staff and fireys held a meeting at Patterson Lakes Community Centre on Saturday before heading out to door knock Carrum electorate residents to talk to them about their funding concerns. The high-profile action was dubbed ‘Code Red Carrum’. Ambulance Employees Australia assistant secretary Danny Hill said all the members of the public spoken to on the day were “very sympathetic” to the union’s concerns about budget cuts to the health system.

“Everyone knew about the backlog issues caused by ambulance ramping at Frankston Hospital and said they supported anything that could be done to improve the situation,” Mr Hill said.

Fireys have decided to directly target Premier Denis Napthine in a state election year with a union-led ‘Napthine slashes, you burn’ campaign (‘Fireys see red over cutbacks’, The News, 19/3/14). The UFU said the Liberal National coalition state government broke a pre election promise to employ an additional 342 firefighters in the aftermath of Black Saturday in 2009 and has slashed the CFA’s annual operational budget by $41 million. The CFA has more than 1500 paid staff members and about 60,000 volunteers. United Firefighters Union Victorian branch secretary Peter Marshall said firefighters had been encouraged to continue their campaign against funding cuts by the Napthine government by the positive public response in Carrum at the weekend.

“There was not one negative comment all day from a member of the public,” Mr Marshall said.

He said firefighters and paramedics had visited about 11,000 homes on Saturday and had spoken to nearly 4000 people. Mr Marshall said that he “made no apologies” for directly aiming the UFU at Premier Napthine and the Coalition government.

“Whoever serves in that government is also responsible for the appalling state of emergency services in Victoria,” Mr Marshall said.

Carrum MP Donna Bauer was unavailable for comment due to illness. Ms Bauer’s office staff declined to provide comment to The News before publication.

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