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Volunteer law open to legal bid: Vic Govt

AAP logoAAP 10/10/2016 Angus Livingston

New federal laws will protect the role of emergency service volunteers but Victoria says they're "dodgy" and open to legal challenge.

Changes to the Fair Work Act passed parliament on Monday as the federal government delivered on its promise to intervene in Victoria's divisive CFA pay dispute.

Victorian ministers immediately slammed them as a "farce", "dodgy" and unnecessary, but did not say if the state government would be part of a legal challenge.

State Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins says the amendment has holes "you could drive a truck through".

"It actually sets a massive precedent of the federal government interfering in one single EBA and changing the Fair Work Act to do so," Ms Hutchins told reporters on Tuesday.

"It's a very bad precedent. It hasn't been written well and I think it will be open to legal challenge."

But federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash on Tuesday again insisted the Commonwealth was "very confident about the constitutionality of the bill".

Premier Daniel Andrews said CFA volunteers were being treated as political footballs.

"There's no need to be changing the Fair Work Act. CFA volunteers are valued and respected and supported by our government," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"It's not respectful. It's not appropriate to be treating our volunteers as political footballs."

The long-running dispute centres on a controversial pay agreement that CFA volunteers believe hands too much power to the United Firefighters Union.

The saga has so far resulted in the resignation of a government minister and senior figures of both the CFA and MFB.

The agreement is the still subject of a Supreme Court challenge, with volunteers arguing they weren't consulted on it, and it gave the union a veto over management decisions.

Union boss Peter Marshall told a senate inquiry the union was pushing for stronger EBAs in order to hold fire service bosses accountable, as governments had not done so for more than 20 years.

Senator Cash said the proposed agreement could be stripped of controversial clauses, or it could be sent to the Fair Work Commission to determine if it was lawful.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy believes the dispute may have to be reheard in Fair Work thanks to the amended legislation.

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