Firefighters have hailed a TV advertising campaign pressuring the Napthine government to pass legislation providing compensation for occupational cancer. The advertisement released by the Victorian Greens calls for the Napthine government to acknowledge that there is a link between firefighters and high rates of cancer. The news comes six days after the Tasmanian Parliament passed legislation to assist firefighters with work-related cancer to access entitlements to medical expenses and compensation.
The South Australian and Western Australian governments are making similar motions. United Firefighters Union national secretary Peter Marshall said the union was gratified that the Greens were running the advertisements.
“The Napthine government has been superficial and insincere when it comes to supporting the welfare of their firefighters,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Tasmanian Parliament has accepted all the science and arguments that the Napthine government says prevents legislation from being put in place in Victoria.
“Both houses of the Federal Parliament of Australia unanimously endorse legislation based on the irrefutable evidence that firefighters forego quantity and quality of life due to occupational cancer.” Mr Marshall said the Napthine government had rejected international studies of more than 100,000 firefighters and the findings of a 2011 Australian Senate inquiry “Firefighters with cancer are currently prevented in most cases from claiming insurance such as workers’ compensation, because they face the impossible task ot identifying which chemicals, on which dates, at which incidents, may have caused their illness,” he said.
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the Tasmanian bill was about fairness and “protecting those who protect us”.
“I expect it’s the hard nosed money men of the Liberals making decisions, it’s really just down to the cost,” Mr Barber said.
Spokesman for the Assistant Treasurer Sean Burton said the advertisement was sending an incorrect message.
“The Greens TV ad is wrong.
Firefighters, like any other worker, are already entitled to compensation if they are injured at work, including contracting cancer,” Mr Burton said.