Fuel card cuts disappoint

Pierra WillixBusselton Dunsborough Times

Cuts to the State’s fuel card for emergency services volunteers have incensed South West MLC Dr Steve Thomas, who says the cuts are an insult.

Last week, Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan said the card was a token of appreciation for volunteers but was not practical and needed to be reviewed.

Under the scheme, brigades, groups and units can apply for $1000 to be spent on fuel for private vehicles, but Mr Logan said it had not been implemented correctly and “in some cases, has just caused unnecessary headaches for volunteers”.

However, Dr Thomas said the cards would now be capped at $1000 for each brigade, group or unit — down from $2000 previously — meaning the metropolitan volunteer fuel card had been halved, and the regional card cut by two-thirds.

“This is so the Labor Government can save $3 million at the expense of our hardworking fire and emergency volunteers,” he said.

Yallingup Rural Bushfire Brigade captain Matt Muir said the cards were beneficial for members of his brigade, but said it was more of a reward for volunteers rather than a necessity.

“It was something I liked to pass on to the members so they could put a tank of fuel in their own private vehicles,” he said.

“We put in our own time and are not remunerated in any way, so it was very useful and appreciated by members.

“However, the reduction won’t make much difference as this was something that wasn’t around five years ago.

“It was a bonus, however the cuts are disappointing.”

Dr Thomas said given country and regional volunteers usually had further to travel for training and to attend incidents, this break-up of the funding was insulting to vital rural emergency volunteers.

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