Leader of The Nationals WA and Member for Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies says a new Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s (DFES) code of conduct gagging volunteers from communicating with State and Federal Members of Parliament must be ditched.
The mandatory code of conduct was announced earlier this month by the Emergency Services Commissioner and requires all the State’s 26,000 emergency services volunteers to sign up to it within four weeks.
Ms Davies said preventing volunteers from communicating with Members of Parliament was undemocratic and may stop them seeking support for equipment, infrastructure or any other challenges they may face.
“Preventing volunteers, who play a vital role in Wheatbelt communities, from engaging with Parliamentarians will be detrimental for their organisations and individuals,” she said.
“Blocking their communication channel to raising issues impacting them or their brigade, group or unit essentially renders them voiceless in State and Federal Parliament.
“That could have negative consequences in the communities they serve, because one of their key pathways for raising concerns has been blocked.”
There are dozens of emergency service groups, brigades and units in Central Wheatbelt whose members regularly put their own safety on the line to protect others in the community.
Ms Davies said the code of conduct was a severe overstep and needed to be addressed.
“Quite rightly many in the volunteer community are boiling mad about this and I don’t blame them for feeling the way they do,” she said.
“The Nationals WA have been vocal on behalf of volunteers and the need for the Premier to step in and intervene with this draconian code.”