Volunteer firefighters should be paid compensation for their time according to industrial advocate Miles Heffernan.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that some volunteers will be eligible for payments to compensate them for lost income.
Many volunteers firefighters are missing out on wages because they are spending so much time away from their regular jobs.
Volunteer firefighters who will be eligible
Mr Morrison announced some volunteer firefighters in New South Wales will be eligible for:
- $300 a day,
- up to a maximum of $6,000.
Volunteers who are self-employed or work for small and medium size businesses are eligible for the compensation.
Firefighters working for big companies such as Coles or Qantas will get nothing.
Volunteers in Victoria and South Australia will also receive compensation.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims said under normal circumstances, volunteers should not be paid, but these are exceptional circumstances.
“This is a very extreme situation, because these volunteers are holding a hose and fighting a wall of fire,” he said.
“Some are doing it day after day, for weeks on end, so therefore, on this rare occasion, they deserve some small compensation.
“Afterall, their lives, and their income, are on hold as they do this vital community service.”
Mr Heffernan scoffed at suggestions that paying volunteers will ‘open the floodgates’.
“Both paid and unpaid labour patrol Bondi beach every weekend,” he said.
“The council pays the blue shirts, and the red and yellow shirts volunteer.
“The yellow shirts turn up every week in abundance, proving that people will always volunteer to help the community.”