Australia Sacked CFA board member to challenge James Merlino at ballot box

13:58  13 september  2017
13:58  13 september  2017 Source:   ABC News

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Acting Premier James Merlino (right) with Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley Photo: Darrian Traynor. Mr Schurink was appointed to the CFA board in 2014 but was dismissed when Mr Merlino , who is Emergency Services Minister, sacked all board members over a bitter pay

One of the men sacked from the Country Fire Authority board by Victoria's Deputy Premier James Merlino is challenging him at the ballot box.

John Schurink, an outspoken former board member, won preselection for Liberal Party for the seat of Monbulk in the Dandenong ranges.

Mr Merlino, who is the Emergency Services Minister, holds the seat by a margin of 5 per cent.

Mr Schurink was appointed to the CFA board after being nominated by Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

That group has been the most vocal critic of the highly politicised workplace agreement for paid CFA firefighters.

Under the CFA act, the VFBV nominates four people to sit on the board.

The seat of Monbulk has a strong CFA presence and the backlash against Premier Daniel Andrews fire reforms is expected to be a key issue for local voters.

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Mr Schurink, a veteran paramedic of 27 years, said he had previously been a member of the Young Liberals before letting his membership lapse.

He said he re-joined the party after being sacked from the CFA.

As a CFA volunteer, Mr Schurink also works for the Hatzolah Jewish ambulance service.

The 61-year-old identified rising crime rates in Monbulk as another pressing issue for voters.

Asked if he was approached to run, he said he put his hand up to be the candidate.

Pressed on his ideological position within the Liberal Party, he said he supported the party's principles and described himself as "moderately conservative".

John Schurink (left) and Victorian Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy, hold a press conference at Victoria's Parliament House on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. © AAP Image John Schurink (left) and Victorian Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy, hold a press conference at Victoria's Parliament House on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. On the issue of marriage equality, Mr Schurink said: "My background and upbringing would say that was not a valuable thing to do, but my life's journey along paramedicine shows me that for those people they have a right to be married."

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He said his experience as a paramedic taught him to treat people with respect and to listen to all members of the community.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the seat was winnable.

"He has a community, a career, a history working for Victorians,'' Mr Guy said.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced Industrial Relations and Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins will take over the portfolios for Women and Prevention of Family Violence held by the late Fiona Richardson.

Rather than replacing Ms Richardson in cabinet, Mr Andrews has decided to hand Ms Hutchins the portfolios, while moving the local government portfolio to Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz.

"As Minister, Ms Hutchins has led the fight for equal pay for women, delivered family violence leave for the Victorian public service and overseen the highest number of female councillors in local government ever,'' Mr Andrews said.

"There is no one better to follow Ms Richardson — Australia's first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, who helped fundamentally change Victoria for the better and save the lives of so many women and children."

Hasler sacked by Bulldogs .
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