Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp wants the state government to support new “presumptive” legislation introduced to parliament by Labor, which he says would make it easier for firefighters suffering from certain types of cancer to access worker’s compensation.
But the government says it won’t support the law in its current form, instead flagging its intention to table a bill which would would cover the same 12 types of cancer but not include the 10-year post employment diagnosis limit contained in Labor’s version of the legislation.
The new law means firefighters found to have certain types of cancer, such as leukaemia, brain cancer, non-hodgkin lymphoma, ureter cancer and prostate cancer, would not have to prove their condition was work-related in order to qualify for compensation if they met a particular employment period for each type of cancer.
For example, firefighters would need to have worked for 10 years to automatically qualify for compensation for testicular cancer, while the period would be 15 years for kidney cancer.
Most other Australian states and territories have similar legislation in place.
Mr Crakanthorp said on Wednesday it was the government’s duty to protect firefighters.
“Firefighters regularly put their lives on the line to protect our communities from harm,” he said.
“This legislation is intended to protect and assist firefighters during the tumultuous times which follow the diagnosis of cancer.”
Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant and Finance Minister Victor Dominello said in a joint statement last week former and serving firefighters diagnosed from September 27 would qualify under the government’s version of the legislation, if it was passed.
“The government believes that our firefighters deserve better protection and is currently finalising the costings and operational changes required to implement its preferred reform, which will not contain Labor's 10-year limitation period,” the statement said.
Fire Brigade Employees Union branch secretary Jason Morgan supported Labor’s push for the new legislation on Wednesday.
“Hopefully there’s bipartisan support for the bill,” he said.
“There’s a lot of blokes up here that have been affected by cancer so if this helps them or anyone else ... that’s a win for everyone.”
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