Vic govt confident in fire services reform

A bill to create the volunteer-only Fire Rescue Victoria is before the upper house for debate.
A bill to create the volunteer-only Fire Rescue Victoria is before the upper house for debate.

The Victorian government believes its controversial overhaul of the state's fire services will pass parliament, despite the absence of two supporters.

A bill to create the volunteer-only Fire Rescue Victoria by combining the Metropolitan Fire Brigade with paid Country Fire Authority staff is before the upper house for debate and the government wants it voted on by the end of the week.

However government MP Philip Dalidakis on Monday resigned from parliament to take up a corporate job at Australia Post, and fellow Labor MP Mark Gepp has been off sick.

Leader of the government in the Legislative Council, Gavin Jennings, said Mr Dalidakis' departure "wasn't the most helpful of timing".

"But he has chosen to pursue a new life and we wish him well," Mr Jennings told reporters on Tuesday.

"We're confident the bill will pass later in the week."

The government will need support from Legislative Council crossbenchers to pass the bill, which has already been given a green light by the lower house.

If Mr Gepp does not return to parliament this week, the government will need five crossbench supporters.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said he expected all 11 coalition MPs to be in the chamber to vote against the bill.

"Victorians deserve better than this, CFA volunteers certainly deserve better than this and we'll be voting against this bill," he told reporters.

"If they can muster numbers to try and destroy the CFA then that's on (Premier) Daniel Andrews, but we won't be supporting it."

Last year the coalition spectacularly torpedoed a similar bill on Good Friday when two of its MPs were excused from voting for religious reasons, only to return at the last minute and out-vote the government.

Lone upper house Greens MP Samantha Ratnam said she hoped the bill would pass this week so the matter was settled.

"It's overdue reform particularly in presumptive legislation for firefighters who are becoming unwell because of the work that they do," Ms Ratnam told reporters at parliament.

As well as splitting the firefighting agencies, the bill will also include presumptive compensation rights for firefighters.

Australian Associated Press