Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has asked the Minister responsible for fuel reduction burns to outline how the government will address fuel loads, after the State Government conceded it had only reached 43% of an already low target.
“In the lead up to last summer’s horrendous fires, there were record fuel loads in the bush and DELWP’s own report showed that it had reached only 86,744 ha (43%) of its (already low) burn target of 200,000 – 275,000ha.,” said Mr Bull.
“When in government the Coalition increased the amount of area fuel reduction burned to over 300,000ha.
“Having asked the Minister a series of questions, she advised: ‘we are experiencing hotter, drier conditions, that Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) cannot carry out planned burns when weather is unsuitable and FFMV will not compromise on the delivery of burns’.
“However, what is lacking is any plan or explanation of how the Government will get anywhere near achieving its target. By the Government’s own admission, this is a figure that needs to be achieved to provide a reasonable level of community safety.
“It is misleading to have a target that you never get near and change nothing. What happens is fuel loads gradually build up and then you have an event like we had last summer.
“In a period where conditions are warming, surely we need to take stronger action on reducing fuel loads. To allow them to build up and build up in a warmer environment will never end well, as we have seen.
“Doing nothing and maintaining the status quo is not an option as it will end in loss of life.”
The Minister responded this week by saying efforts were being made to achieve more burns but could not refer to any policy changes that would allow the required reductions in fuel loads.
Mr Bull said he would like to see greater focus and fast tracking of indigenous burning programs.
“I have been in the bush and seen these practices first hand and heard from those trained in the art, that year-round fuel reduction burning can be achieved in the right areas in the right conditions, even in the middle of winter.
“This is one area where we could have a focus, but above all we need to hear this Government’s plan on what it is going to do, so we don’t have a repeat of last year in the years ahead.”
Monday, February 8, 2021