Volunteers as slightly nobler scabs

ANTHONY Albanese is going from bad to worse. I’ve written about the promise he once had, at least compared to Bill Shorten; more recently, I noted how his series of ‘headland’ speeches had deteriorated into a blancmange of fatuousness. When controversy arose about the Prime Minister’s Christmas holiday, he improved again. The Opposition Leader defended the Morrison family’s right to have a break, bush-fires or no. But as that outrage ripened in the Yuletide sun and became juicy as a differentiation temptation, he couldn’t resist the low-hanging fruit. Rushing to the mikes, he announced that volunteer firemen should be paid. It was cheap politics. Just like that, the Opposition Leader could be goodie to a boardies-wearing baddie. He was supported by the astro-turf Volunteer Firefighters Association with whom he was suddenly, suspiciously simpatico.

Now, this is one of the most stupid and deeply offensive ‘policies’ ever thought-bubbled into existence. But no, it wasn’t surprising. The left has always been resentful of volunteerism. Especially so when the volunteers put their lives at risk while serving others. Distributing how-to-vote cards for the Labor Party and being thanked with a sausage sandwich is one thing but doing dangerous, unremunerated toil for days on end undermines the left’s Marxian view of man: workers as victims caught betwixt the big tectonic plates of dialectical materialism and in dire need of rescue themselves. Mr Albanese sees himself as the Tony Abbott of industrial justice – face dirty, hands gnarled, hi-viz jacket stained with sweat and ash, manhandling the money hose. NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons doesn’t see him that way. “Don’t do the volunteers a disservice by suggesting that you’re going to pay them, because then they’re no longer volunteers and that’s absolutely the sentiment that I’m getting loud and clear everywhere I go,” he told reporters.

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52 Responses to Volunteers as slightly nobler scabs

  1. John A

    Isn’t it ironic that the “progressive” side of politics wants to monetise volunteering but has no idea about monetising commercial ventures (such as Fairfax Press)?

    The Late Ronnie Corbett: Yes, ironic, isn’t it?

  2. BrettW

    Heard an interview with Shane Fitzsimmons in which he said the Volunteer Fire Firefighters Association was not representative of the volunteers. RFS Asssociation is the official one. He did not not much good to say about the one Albo seems to be listening to.

    Once you start paying them Albo would become very keen for them to become unionised.

  3. stackja

    Give RFS volunteers employers tax breaks.
    Give RFS volunteers tax breaks.
    With less tax, Canberra might need to cut back on spending.

  4. candy

    Shane Fitzsimmons is an impressive chap, when you watch the press conferences etc. Seems very trustworthy and knowledgeable, a good communicator.

  5. Matt

    Who does Albo suggest pays them, the federal government perhaps?

  6. John64

    The left has always been resentful of volunteerism. Especially so when the volunteers put their lives at risk while serving others. Distributing how-to-vote cards for the Labor Party and being thanked with a sausage sandwich is one thing but doing dangerous, unremunerated toil for days on end undermines the left’s Marxian view of man: workers as victims caught betwixt the big tectonic plates of dialectical materialism and in dire need of rescue themselves.

    Magnificently said.

    Exhibit A: Daniel Andrews’ disgraceful assault on the volunteer members of the CFA at the behest of his UFU puppet master Peter Marshall.

  7. max

    Albo filmed handing out meals at a Salvos shelter today: ‘This one looks like it’s vegetarian, ‘ He seemed stressed and on edge as he passed the plate to the overweight, confused and uncomprehending potential belligerent seated at the long table.

    They must be paying a film crew to follow him around. The disgusting pricks have been exploiting the fires for all they’re worth.

  8. Cardimona

    The brilliant John Constantine suggested something like this might happen.
    (Anyone know why we’ve not heard from him lately?)

  9. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    They must be paying a film crew to follow him around. The disgusting pricks have been exploiting the fires for all they’re worth.

    “Exploiting” isn’t too strong a word to use. From over on Michael Smith.

    Paul , I was at the Bilpin fire Thursday night , when we were released around 6am there was no breakfast waiting for us at the staging area at Bilpin Community Hall and we were told to go to McDonald’s North Richmond ( on our nearly 3hr trip north home )to get a feed. On the way out on the Bells Line of Road at Kurrajong at a roadblock, here was Albo and staffers and Comcar and a TV OB van waiting to do a interview obviously. Seems they waited for Albo and the journos to arrive at the Bilpin Hall to start serving breakfast for Albos ” feeding weary firefighters” photo op. Im over all politicians using us firefighters and the fires to enhance their public profiles.

  10. Tel

    Shane Fitzsimmons is an impressive chap, when you watch the press conferences etc. Seems very trustworthy and knowledgeable, a good communicator.

    Make him volunteer Prime Minister … we could do a lot worse.

  11. Snoopy

    Mr Albanese sees himself as the Tony Abbott of industrial justice – face dirty, hands gnarled, hi-viz jacket stained with sweat and ash, manhandling the money hose.

    I thought his on location televised Christmas message reeked of Shorten of Beaconsfield.

  12. Dr Faustus

    They must be paying a film crew to follow him around. The disgusting pricks have been exploiting the fires for all they’re worth.

    Albanese’s initial comments about ScoMo’s ‘right to a family break’ was delivered against the backdrop of a parked fire truck with the implied message that higher duties were available for people with greater responsibility (like, oh, for instance, Citizen Albanese).

    This ’damned by faint praise’ defence was briskly followed up by Albanese wondering aloud to the reptiles ‘why is the ScoMo vacation smothered in such secrecy?’ Moral panic erupted in the typing pool – exactly as workshopped.

    Not a knockabout good bloke. He is a regulation ALP piece of shit, indistinguishable from Puke Shorten.

  13. Occupy Centrelink

    Scariest Facebook comment I’ve read since this story began –

    “Volunteering is modern-day slavery”.

    That’s one voice only but speaking for thousands no doubt.

    These people vote.

  14. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    “Volunteering is modern-day slavery”.

    Probably ten years ago, a local community service club was asking the local school children to volunteer their services for a recycling programme.

    The children agreed, provided that the activities took place in school hours, and they would be given time off from school to participate. Their own time was sacrosanct.

  15. Rockdoctor

    FFS. It’s the UFU & CFA all over again. The grubs are behind this campaign and they are not doing it for the volunteers.

    Coming from a military family I respect them for what they do but a line has well and truly been crossed with these firefighters unions. Time to reign them in with maximum prejudice, don’t expect much from the ALP states but does Gladys have the will? Scomo is already showing signs of folding, she will be soon behind IMO.

  16. RobK

    Volunteering is, to a large extent, predicated on social interdependence especially when it involves risk to life and property. Everyone knew it was in their interest to do what they could. My local volunteer brigade was far more coherent and dedicated before mandatory fees were collected and government took a management role rather than a supportive role.

  17. Mother Lode

    Mr Albanese sees himself as the Tony Abbott of industrial justice

    There is a fundamental distinction between Abbott’s moral and epistemological claim to his cause (volunteerism), and the cosmetically remediated yet more enduringly and essentially snagged-toothed syntactically sadistic and phonemically philanderous runt Albo’s cause (work).

    The reason Labor sounds so hypocritical on any issue that matters is that they have as a matter of policy sought people politically uncompromised by experience.

  18. Bad Samaritan

    ZK (9.50pm) Was the Maccas “feed” a free feed?

    If so then it’s pretty nice of MacD, while if not it’s an extremely arrogant palming-off in addition to the issue of being held up for Albo’s photo-op. Which was it?

  19. Exhibit A: Daniel Andrews’ disgraceful assault on the volunteer members of the CFA at the behest of his UFU puppet master Peter Marshall.

    As well as Ambulance Victoria being in the union’s sights. Rural Victoria has many ambulance volunteers, known as Ambulance Community Officers, who work in isolation or with paramedics and the union wants them replaced with permanent paramedics (but reduced numbers).

  20. Win

    If volunteer firemen get paid they will then be fair game for the Fire Fighters Trade Union enforcers.

  21. The argument that volunteers should be paid is the same as calling for a minimum wage. The interests of the volunteers are not what Albo has in mind.

  22. calli

    Once you start paying them Albo would become very keen for them to become unionised.

    Had this conversation with son in law who’s been out attending to fires all week.

    The other aspect is autonomy. At the moment, the RFS can run the way it wants to, the moment they accept payment that will change. Another behemoth bureaucracy will pull the strings, because he who pays the piper calls the tune.

    And “volunteerism”, that great Australian tradition, will evaporate.

  23. Snirtus

    RobK, you said it well.
    Interdependence is independent people coming together to do something you can’t do on your own.
    Fighting bush fires was the essence of “I help you to fight your fire and you help me with mine.”
    Phil Koperberg saw an oportunity to build a bureacratic empire funded by fire brigade levies on insurance policies. So on the pretext of helping volunteer fire brigades, he imposed a uniform, special language and rules that excluded anyone not “qualified” to hold a position. (familiar pattern?)
    The stereo (RFS) is more important than the music (fuel reduction, open fire trails and quick response times).
    I am more frightened of those guys in white shirts than I am of the fire.

  24. Cui Bono

    Great post. And Scomo hands out more Taxpayer’s $$$ for PS paid-leave, because ADF Reserves already have it so…
    Now pressuring private sector to do same.
    Defending Aussie values apparently

  25. Boambee John

    Similar take over by paid “professional” staff is underway in Marine Rescue NSW (I left for other reasons, but ine increased bureaucracy was becoming burdensome).

  26. Kneel

    “Give RFS volunteers employers tax breaks.
    Give RFS volunteers tax breaks.”

    +1000

    Instead of paying them, reduce their taxable income by the amount you propose to pay them.
    Identical deduction for the employer.
    Simple. Popular. Cheap.
    Any politician should jump at it.

  27. Tel

    With thanks to Jo Nova.

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/jo.nova/graph/land/fires/fire-sw-wa-17.gif

    Back in the 70’s and 80’s when volunteers were doing their own thing and government blockheads kept their nose out of it, the whole thing went very nicely. Ever since then, more government involvement has resulted in more out of control wildfires, and less fuel reduction.

  28. BorisG,

    Do volunteers get paid by the employers or they have to take leave?

  29. hzhousewife

    Already “volunteers” are being hamstrung by credentialism, “working with children ” checks etc, good way to kill off volunteers.

  30. Robbo

    Down to the bottom of the swamp plunges Albanese as he takes the unthinking cheap political route of licking the arses of volunteer firefighters by calling for them to be paid. In one stroke this dickhead would remove the word “volunteer” from the job description of the thousands of selfless individuals who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. They don’t want money but they do want support in the way of the very best equipment to deal with the beast that they fight. As someone who gave 20 years as a volunteer firefighter I am insulted at this miserable attempt by Albanese to curry favour with volunteers.

  31. “Volunteering is modern-day slavery”

    Volunteering is for suckers.

    Do you know that so-called volunteers don’t even get paid?

  32. open fire trails

    LOL

    My idiot hometown council can’t stop closing them. To stop “illegal dumping”. Hmm. Maybe “arson” is a higher priority?

  33. calli

    Do volunteers get paid by the employers or they have to take leave?

    Employers’ discretion. I always paid my volunteer firies.

  34. thefrollickingmole

    Instead of paying them, reduce their taxable income by the amount you propose to pay them.
    Identical deduction for the employer.
    Simple. Popular. Cheap.
    Any politician should jump at it.

    Very good idea, plus it will keep the “professionals” (managers/polliemuppetts& other leeches) away.

    As well as Ambulance Victoria being in the union’s sights. Rural Victoria has many ambulance volunteers, known as Ambulance Community Officers, who work in isolation or with paramedics and the union wants them replaced with permanent paramedics (but reduced numbers).

    Never stand between a medical mob and a dollar.
    Here in WA I looked at setting up a patient transfer service between Feraldton and Perth.
    Even the numbers transferred were a secret “commercial confidence”.
    In effect St Johns run a monopoly with quite a few questionable business practices.
    Not the least being allowed to use volleys to run a business.

  35. Crossie

    I thought his on location televised Christmas message reeked of Shorten of Beaconsfield.

    And I hope he has the same success in getting to The Lodge as Shorten did.

  36. thefrollickingmole
    #3272447, posted on December 26, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Instead of paying them, reduce their taxable income by the amount you propose to pay them.
    Identical deduction for the employer.
    Simple. Popular. Cheap.
    Any politician should jump at it.

    Very good idea, plus it will keep the “professionals” (managers/polliemuppetts& other leeches) away.

    It’s the same with welfare.

    The government should look to reduce spending, cut taxes and reduce inefficiencies and achieve greater prosperity and affordability…thereby lessening the need for the scope of people served by welfare and they amount of their welfare “cheque” (let alone the cost and size of bureaucracy).

    It is an offensive idea to an entity that exists to serve itself and keep on growing. If you had no fuel, beer or tobacco excise, the extent of welfare would diminish significantly.

    If you buy one tank of petrol, one pack of ciggies and one carton of beer a week (not excessive at all), the amount of tax paid is not only whopping, the rate is usurious and the tax regime is actually regressive.

    There are industries, they are rackets and they have interests.

    …and I ain’t talking about stamp collecting, chief.

  37. Crossie

    They don’t want money but they do want support in the way of the very best equipment to deal with the beast that they fight.

    And proper management of forests AND national parks with continuous back burning from April to October. The other thing has already been mentioned – fire trails – and unrestricted access to them so that everyone becomes vigilant and can report on problem areas.

  38. Crossie

    My favourite bugbear is the insistence on planting eucalypts in and around new housing developments. That does attract native birds but also the very native fires. With everything we know you would think the move would be to either non-eucalyptus natives or even European deciduous trees. To be truly honest, eucalypts do not add to the aesthetics, they are rather ugly trees.

  39. Southern beech
    Illawarra flame tree
    Macadmia
    Waratah
    Boronia
    Kauri tree
    Casurinas
    Ferns
    Cycads
    Wollemi pines
    Red cedar…plus at least about 300 more IIRC.

    So many native trees we can plant that aren’t ugly, water wasting, alleopathic, explosive, storm loving, house ending timebombs.

    That’s before we get to (mostly European) exotic trees and shrubs.

  40. The truly weird thing is that not only are river red gums pushed to be planted, they are “endangered”.

    WTF?

    25 years ago they were being actively logged.

    They are almost everywhere there are trees west of the GDR.

  41. Roger

    Not a knockabout good bloke. He is a regulation ALP piece of shit, indistinguishable from Puke Shorten.

    A few years ago the reunion of “Albo” with his Italian father Carlos was splashed all over the press, replete with snaps of the family holiday in Italy.

    Forward to the citizenship crisis in the last parliament and “Albo” doesn’t even list his Italian father on his citizenship register form. The press remain incurious.

    Tells you all you need to know about the man and the media.

  42. Fred

    First they get paid.
    Then they become unionised.
    Then they walk of the job when the temperature reaches 35 degrees.
    Then the people will have to start raising volunteer firefighting brigades.

  43. Mother Lode

    The volunteers do what they do due to a sense of connection to their communities and to other people.

    Albo wants to replace that by making bush firemen clients – defined by their relationship to government.

    He (and his ilk) do not see any value in a society the cohesion of which is based on relationships between its members. They cannot recognise the value if they are not included in it.

    Society grew organically held by bonds of different scales and different planes: family bonds, neighbourhoods, religious affiliation, workplace relationships etc. These reinforced each other and provided people with multifaceted existences.

    Progressives intentionally have (and continue to) corrode these without understanding the ramifications. They form their theories based on one aspect from one single perspective. They reduce all people to a discrete collective (group, sexual orientation) and ascribe to it collective qualities that they use for their calculus.

    Needless to say the systems they devise never work on real people. Thus the ramifications.

  44. Bad Samaritan

    I detest govt as much as anyone….especially the state govts since they tend to be in your face a lot more often than the feds. However…..I reckon the NSW NPWS learned quite a bit from the 2003 fires where they let half of Kosciuszko NP burn…….the resorts threatened…and 500 houses go up in flames in Canberra due to a lack of early intervention on the fire which started in an NSW reserve.

    Go to any number of parks in NSW and you’ll find there’s been a lot of work done on reopening fire-trails; grading and gravelling others; installing bridges and culverts etc. Anyone in the know will also tell you that they are now taking extra care to “fire-proof” historic huts and homesteads wherever they can , whereas the previous MO was “burn baby burn”. Burn-offs are also much more frequent than pre-2003.

    Meanwhile, in Qld this constant burning off is standard in NPs. Example; Cape Hillsborough between Mackay and Prossy was done in August by helicopters dropping accelerant canisters here and there. Warning signs up for months in advance, with the RFS ringing the joint along all access roads. All the bushland between Bowen and Rose Bay was cold-burned at about the same time. Etc Etc.

    Sure there’s plenty of f’wits in govt, but the few (or the many) who are OK should be encouraged. ie Not blanket condemned. Just my opinion as always…

  45. Boambee John

    Fred
    #3272515, posted on December 26, 2019 at 11:45 am
    First they get paid.
    Then they become unionised.

    By a strange conicidence, the annual “gratuity” will turn out to be $10 more than the annual union membership fee.

  46. stackja

    I can’t see TA joining any fire man unions.

  47. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Then they become unionised.

    An act which would spark mass resignations, mine included, from my local brigade.

  48. Squirrel

    The more I see of Albanese as Opposition Leader, the more I am reminded that I first heard of him as the fixer from Labor head office who never appeared on camera in this excellent doco –

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rats_in_the_Ranks

  49. bushwacked

    Having just got back from 2 back to back stints with strike crews out of Nowra, the overwhelming sentiment amongst the crews l was with was we dont want to be paid. Offering payment will frankly encourage exactly the wrong sort of person to sign up.

  50. flyingduk

    I am an SA CFS member and have done multiple days at Cudlee Creek. I DO NOT want to be paid (my hourly rate in my real job is $150/hr btw, so good luck with that). I would, however, consider a waiving of the ’emergency services levy’ for all emergency services vollies (Fire, ambulance, SES etc) to be a very nice way of saying thankyou to those of us who actually provide those services.

  51. a reader

    What next for Albo? paid SES workers? Paid St Johns Ambulance volunteers? (Talking the NSW variety not the weird arrangements in other states). Paid Lions, Probus, Apex, Rotary volunteers? Paid Sports Club committees?

    As for the aforementioned ‘working with children’ check, I sat through a presentation from the NSW Office of the Child Guardian where they admitted that they’re useless. They also had this long list of recommendations from the Royal Commission which sounded lovely but were actually impossible if you wanted to continue to run community sport. The sheer workload and responsibility would be enough to run off every member of the local footy, cricket or netball club let alone the expenses.

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