Matters of State | Phil Donato

Support for our Firefighters

As many of you who read this column already know, my upper house colleagues and I supported vital amendments to the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment (Firefighters) Bill 2018, which would recognise professional and volunteer firefighters’ rights to worker’s compensation for certain diagnosed cancers, now known to be linked with this hazardous occupation.

In order to save a few quid, the Government blocked this legislation and produced their own bill, which only recognises firefighters’ rights to worker’s compensation if they have been diagnosed with one of the 12 specified cancers on or after 27th September 2018.

I voted to amend this legislation so that those firefighters who are now suffering from one of these work related cancers and diagnosed before 27th September will be given the same rights for workers’ compensation as those firefighters who are unfortunate to contract cancer after this date.

It’s completely callous of the Berejiklian Barilaro Government to recognise cancer diagnosed on one day as a work related injury, but not recognise cancer diagnosed on another.

What is even more detestable is that in the final hours of the last day of Parliament for this year, the Government manipulated pivotal cross-bench votes by suggesting retrospective compensation would break the budget, costing up to one billion dollars to compensate firefighters already stricken with cancer. This was a tactic designed by the Government to scaremonger, as the claim was unsubstantiated.

Our brave firefighters should be afforded the full protections of worker’s compensation if they’re unfortunate enough to contract cancer in the line of duty. This Government doesn’t bat an eyelid when deciding to spend billions on relocating museums and rebuilding sports stadiums, but they don’t want to help our firefighters who are suffering from cancer.

The Government have now chosen to instead hold an inquiry regarding retrospective claims for workers compensation in the first 100 days following the March state election – that is, if they’re voted back in! Another inquiry…

I and my colleagues support amendments to this bill so that pre-diagnosed cancers will be included in the legislation.

The Wheels of Justice Turn Slowly

It was a relief to see the Government finally announce the appointment of a full-time District Court Judge to Service Parkes, Orange and Bathurst courts to clear a growing backlog and improve efficiency in the justice system – a matter I’ve been advocating for since March 2017, by directly questioning the Attorney General several times.

It shouldn’t take 18 months to address unnecessary delays in criminal trials within country and regional areas. That said, I’m very pleased with this result which will be of benefit to our entire community for many years to come. It’s yet another example that persistence does pay off.

Grants of up to $20,000 for non-profits

A group of philanthropists known as TITAN (The Institute of Technology for Australia and New Zealand) are providing grants of up to $20,000 to enable non-profits to stay up to date and redevelop their websites. It’s a great opportunity for a local non-profit business to get a leg-up and I’d love to see this support go to our region. Go to www.titan.org.au/website-grant for more information.

The mo has got to go!

Thanks to those who supported me during Movember, an initiative tackling men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, metal health and suicide prevention. I ended up raising over $1,400, all thanks to your support! As soon as December 1st hit, the mo had to go. My wife was not disappointed.

Have a great week, Phil.

I had a great time attending the official opening of the new clubhouse at the Forbes Amateur Swimming Club and the 80th anniversary celebrations.

I had a great time attending the official opening of the new clubhouse at the Forbes Amateur Swimming Club and the 80th anniversary celebrations.