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Vic ministers hauled before court over CFA

AAP logoAAP 8/09/2016 Jacqueline Le

Victorian government ministers and senior public servants could be forced to testify in court about a controversial CFA pay deal before the long-running dispute can be resolved.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria launched Supreme Court action against the CFA to suspend the signing of a government-backed enterprise bargaining agreement they believe will adversely affect volunteers.

A trial due to start on September 22 could be delayed until October as subpoenas are served on witnesses, including past and present members of the Victorian cabinet, lawyers told a directions hearing on Thursday.

Justice Michael McDonald said the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office had written to him to say subpoenas had been received by ministers and government departments.

They include Emergency Management Victoria and the departments of Justice, Premier and Cabinet, and Treasury and Finance.

Deputy Premier James Merlino has also received a subpoena.

Counsel for the volunteer brigade told the court they plan to call 10 witnesses at trial.

Three of them are subject to subpoenas - former CFA chief Lucinda Nolan, former chief fire officer Joe Buffone, and former emergency services minister Jane Garrett.

In the meantime, the CFA will continue its undertaking - a promise to the court - that it won't put the deal to paid firefighters for vote until the trial is finalised.

The new CFA board endorsed the union pay deal in August, and had planned to put the agreement to a vote.

The previous board was sacked in June by the state government for refusing to send the proposal to a vote.

Ms Garrett also resigned over her refusal to support the deal.

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