CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 55 : 09 october 2020
QFES ‘VISION’ TO CREATE HYBRID 4TH SERVICE SHUT DOWN
I am aware of a secret scheme within One QFES to create a Frankenstein’s monster fourth service, combining and replacing entirely the roles of FRS (Auxiliary Firefighters), RFS and SES, into a new hybrid operational service within QFES.
The hybrid service was to commence operation instead of the existing three services in specific regional locations, then spread to replace as much of the state operations as possible. Having regional AC’s who control all three existing services was part of the process being developed, implemented and then expanding across each region.
The secret scheme was discussed in late 2019 as being a ‘vision’ for a new way forward, and then again as recently as September 2020 as still being developed amongst senior managers (despite there never being any consultation with your union at all).
I am pleased to say that the RFBAQ (rural volunteer association) and the SESVA (SES volunteer association) are as opposed to this secret plan as the UFUQ.
Due to becoming aware of the secret plans and our combined opposition, One QFES have moved quickly to deny the existence of any secret plan. I have received correspondence from DC Wassing, where he states in response to ‘concerns raised regarding amalgamations of Rural Fire Brigades with State Emergency Service Groups and/or Fire and Rescue Auxiliary Stations’, that neither ‘QFES, nor RFS, nor FRS or SES have a policy or plans for such amalgamations’.
DC Wassing goes on to say that ‘stand alone and co-ordinated capabilities of the Services provide an effective service model across Queensland’, and that ‘any changes in…service delivery will…include engagement with key stakeholders of respective services…’.
Let me be clear, whilst it might be ‘One QFES’ by name, the secret squirrelling between senior state and regional managers that has been going on in the background for over a year has now been disavowed by their managers, in writing.
It would seem that Frankenstein’s monster is dead.
‘NO DISADVANTAGE’ FOR DEFINED BENEFIT SUPERANNUATION MEMBERS
Some months ago, I shared with you correspondence I had received from the Queensland Under Treasurer regarding the effect of the wage deferral on members with a defined benefit superannuation account, who were planning to retire between 1 July 2020 and 1 January 2022.
The Under Treasurer made a clear commitment to ensure that there would be ‘no disadvantage’ for these members – i.e. that their superannuation would not be affected by the wage deferral.
We were told that there were complex legal and taxation implications to consider, and that the details of the ‘no disadvantage’ policy would be released once these were worked through.
Since receiving this correspondence, we have been in regular contact with the Under Treasurer’s office, requesting updates on the status of this project.
Earlier this week, we received another letter providing an update. The information contained in the letter is summarised below, or you can access it in its entirety here.
The following information will be important to you if you hold a defined benefit superannuation account and you are planning to retire before 1 January 2022.
The government is planning to make “no disadvantage” payments to defined benefit members who cease employment for the following reasons before 1 January 2022:
- Resignation after reaching preservation age;
- Redundancy after reaching preservation age;
- Terminal medical condition;
- Permanent disablement;
They expect that these payments will be made directly to the employee by the employer, rather than through the superannuation provider. Employees will not need to apply - the employer will calculate the difference between what QSuper has paid, and what would have been paid if not for the wage deferral, and pay the difference. This payment will be made in the same way as a normal salary payment.
We are advised that the Under Treasurer is still seeking advice on how this will be treated for tax purposes.
We will provide you with further information as we receive it.
John Oliver - General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD