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Andrews dismisses claims CFA pay deal could cost $700 million as wrong

Premier Daniel Andrews has dismissed cost claims on the wage deal.Premier Daniel Andrews has dismissed claims his wage deal with the firefighters union could cost almost $700 million, claiming it is based on old information, politically motivated and wrong.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Andrews is standing by his earlier assertion before Parliament – based on calculations by the Department of Treasury and Finance – that the industrial deal will cost no more than $160 million over four years.

The Sunday Agereported that the cost of the industrial deal could be in the order of at least $663 million, an estimate made by the CFA’s current chief financial officer, Nigel McCormick.

The opposition has promised to write to the Auditor-General this week and call for an inquiry into the deal, amid claims Mr Andrews could have misled Parliament over the true cost of the agreement.

In further comments aimed at the beleaguered public agency, Mr Andrews on Sunday suggested the estimate was politically motivated, out of date, and based on incorrect assumptions.

“Other estimates that do not relate to the current agreement, they are two or three or five drafts ago, with all sorts of assumptions that don’t stack up – well the government won’t be relying on those estimates, they are wrong and the CFA have overnight confirmed that,” Mr Andrews said.

Public sector enterprise agreements in Victoria are typically costed by the Department of Treasury and Finance. After taking out normal wage indexation costs, the department estimated the contentious deal would cost $160 million over four years, including extra salary, conditions, and allowances.

The budget has also already set aside money for additional firefighters.

Shadow attorney-general John Pesutto​, a former industrial relations adviser in the previous Napthine government, said he found it “impossible to accept” that the deal with the United Firefighters Union could only cost $160 million, given the generous conditions built into agreement.

“It is not just me, the former chair of the CFA [John Peberdy​] has said that the deal will cost a lot more than that,” Mr Pesutto said. “Only the Auditor-General is independent enough to be able to acquire those documents, including the Treasury [documents] which are the costings to fully enlighten Victorians about just what is going on here.”

Some government MPs are now starting to question how the issue will end. The dispute has already resulted in a raft of high-profile resignations and sackings, most recently the chief fire officer Joe Buffone​.

It follows reports last week that UFU secretary Peter Marshall allegedly once threatened to put an axe through former Victorian emergency services minister Jane Garrett’s head, a claim that the state secretary has strenuously denied.

Asked about the claim on Sunday, Mr Andrews said: “If anybody feels that they have been badly treated then there are all sorts of options available to them.

“There will be reports about all sorts of different incidents but I really can’t comment beyond that and I have not had an opportunity to speak with Jane [Garrett] about those things. I’ll see her when I get back to Parliament, I’m sure.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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