Here is an example of why we need Governments and Ministers to restore common sense to their Departments and agencies. The following would sit well in an episode of the political satire television series Utopia.
My office was contacted a few months ago by a couple seeking to have the overgrown nature strip at the front of their home fuel reduction burned in the lead up to summer. Driving past the site, it was clear to see this was a sensible request.
It is an area of about 200 metres of roadside, if that.
Enquiries revealed there had in fact been a burn plan in place for this section of roadside for “several years”.
The CFA would undertake the burn on a section of roadside that is a VicRoads responsibility.
A tree inspection was done some time ago and it was deemed there are trees that need to be protected. This meant they needed to be raked around and surrounded by mulch to provide protection.
The CFA then has to work with VicRoads to get native vegetation removal exemptions from DELWP (the third agency involved), so the preparation for the burn can progress.
My office is told this will “take some time and these people need to be patient”.
Remember, there has been a burn plan in place for ‘several years’ and we are talking about fuel reduction burning around 200m of roadside. How long do people need before they no longer have to “be patient”? A decade?
But this is not where it ends!
On top of this, we are then advised that before anything can proceed, there will need to be community engagement carried out to gauge peoples’ reactions. This suggests that if it is not popular, it may not be done.
We are talking about community safety here and a measure that may save homes or even lives.
To recap, a tree inspection needs to be done, a plan put in place to save certain trees, native vegetation removal approval needs to be obtained and community consultation has to take place before the burn can be done.
A little over the top perhaps, but even so – why can’t all this be done in weeks? Why has there been a burn place in place for several years without achieving the burn outcome?
And if a person gets sick of waiting and does it themselves, watch the rush of departmental staffers ready to write out the fines and prosecute that this basic job was done without appropriate approvals.
The departments and agencies can’t have it both ways – act with some level of common sense and get basic jobs done quickly when community safety is the outcome – or put the notepad and pencil away.
It’s time some of our agency heads got their collective heads together and streamlined this process for the sake of our community and the salt of the earth CFA volunteers who want to get in and do these community protection jobs with a minimum of fuss.
Monday, November 30, 2020