Bushfire Preparedness

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (10:48): The Andrews government continues to fail to learn the lessons of the past in the public land space. Labor walked away from the Black Saturday 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommendation to implement a 5 per cent minimum annual program of burning. The Andrews government still has not reached half of its own low fuel reduction burn targets over the past four years.

Recalling the tragic loss of life in the 2019–20 bushfires and remembering those who experienced and survived these horrific fires, I recently visited the landscape and people around Orbost and spoke with the Howitt Society secretary, Garry Squires, who has written to the state coroner. The Howitt Society is requesting that the coroner investigate the bushfires with the purpose of finding how and why they happened in order to reduce the risk of preventable deaths in the future. Locals understand that high fuel loads, lack of adequate preparation over years and the government’s philosophy around risk avoidance at all costs significantly led to the disastrous outcomes for people and environment. I sincerely endorse the Howitt Society’s request to the coroner and trust it will be received with the gravitas that it deserves. With broad-reaching investigative powers, I hope the coroner enables the voice of locals to illuminate the facts, find causes, find culpability and ensure that Victorians will be safer into the future in this public land space.