The controversial CFA bill which the Victorian government hopes to pass by the end of the week is "political poison", according to member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty.
A majority of the Legislative Council voted for a second reading of the Fire Services Reform bill on Tuesday night and is set to be passed late tonight or tomorrow.
The bill strips the CFA of its 36 integrated fire stations, where volunteers work alongside paid firefighters, and merges them with the MFB to form a new career-only service, Fire Rescue Victoria.
Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty drew on his own experiences in fire when he also spoke in opposition to the CFA split.
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"I went to my first fire when I was 12, living in Adelong in New South Wales. Our brigade was called out and my father could not contact anyone to man the tanker, so he grabbed my sister and me, and off we went," he said.
"Armed with a 40-year-old tanker truck and a bit of commonsense, we spent the day fighting a grassfire.
"Even as a 12-year-old I learned that a fast response and a bit of local knowledge is the most effective way to prevent a disaster.
"This bill is madness. It would be hard to find any sector of the community less deserving of being upset by the government.
"The bill itself is a political disaster.
"It is political poison"
Derryn Hinch's Justice Party Northern Victoria MP and volunteer firefighter Tania Maxwell said she is also opposed to the bill and spoke to it on Tuesday night.
"This could, and should, have been an opportunity to identify and discuss, in a consensual way, reforms that might help to genuinely enhance Victorian firefighting well into the future," she said.
"In the process, no one's best interests have been served - least of all the many Victorians living in some of the most fire-prone regions in the world and who deserve the best-organised and best-functioning fire service imaginable.
"I am, and have been for a long time, a CFA volunteer.
"Complementing the very detailed correspondence and advice I have received, this background gives me a level of personal, practical familiarity with the issues and competing perspectives about this legislation.
"I respect every firefighter in this state, irrespective of whether it is their career or they are a volunteer, or a member of a union or not.
"The hard work, dedication and selflessness they bring to protecting the lives and livelihoods of others is something for which all of us should be eternally grateful."
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