Rural fire-fighters establish a backburn.
Rural fire-fighters establish a backburn.

Announcements to come on paid leave for rural fireys issue

THE Federal Government has given its first indication that change is afoot which could pave the way for paid leave from work for volunteer fire-fighters.

Speaking at a media conference in Sydney on Saturday, Federal Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the government had been working on the issue and there were announcements to come.

But for now, he maintains state governments have the ability to enact change immediately under models already in place which see workers paid for things like jury duty.

But on Sunday, a spokesman for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford maintained the simplest and most effective fix was for the Feds to make amendments to the Fair Work Act.

Mr Littleproud insisted that "buck passing" was not the solution.

He was asked by media if he felt comfortable with the fact that the two men who died this week fighting fires weren't being paid.

"Well obviously that's a conversation that we have with the states," Mr Littleproud said.

"Now the states have ownership of the resource and operational management and we want to have a constructive conversation with them and in fact, in some states the states are already paying people who do jury duty.

"So there are already avenues available for state governments to support those volunteers.

"And in some states they already do give some financial support."

Mr Littleproud said the federal government was not going to shirk its responsibility on the important issue which has been the focus of a Morning Bulletin campaign "Fair go for our fireys".

"There's been a lot of work done by the Federal Government over the past couple of months, in particular leading up to this season, about how do we make sure that volunteers...and their employers are not financially constrained by them doing their civic duty," he said.

"But there are a couple of models already around and the states could employ them straight away, same as what they do for jury duty.

"But we (Feds) have been working and will continue to look at that, and there will be some announcements in the future, but obviously we expect the states to step up with us.

"We all have a responsibility, there's no buck passing this.

"We've all got a role to play."

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