Luka Kauzlaric

Firefighters need a proper compensation plan, says expert

,AUSTRALIA'S top emergency services law expert says the Queensland Government is on the right track with its firefighter disease compensation plan.

Australian National University academic Michael Eburn analysed Labor's Workers' Compensation Act amendments and the LNP's Protecting Firefighters bill.

The former was introduced to the parliament on July 15 and the latter was submitted as a private members bill on June 3.

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The ANU College of Law associate professor says the LNP's proposal is ambiguous while the State Government's bill is "much more comprehensive and makes appropriate provision to ensure that volunteer firefighters are covered in the scheme".

Assoc Prof Eburn said the LNP's proposal had a number of problems including referencing volunteers as being employed and not clearly defining those who fight fires and those who undertake ancillary roles - such as office tasks - with their rural brigade.

"Whilst it is clear they are meant to be dealt with in the private members bill the reference to employment is ambiguous," he wrote in the Australian Emergency Law journal.

"On the other hand, the government bill creates a rebuttable presumption that the listed disease is caused by a person's exposure as a firefighter.

"The bill is much clearer in imposing requirements that a person is actually exposed to fire and not merely a member of a brigade in roles that may not include actual firefighting."



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