Today in Question Time, the Andrews Labor Government did not deny that there has been a 75% reduction in planned burning to minimise the risk of bushfires in areas such as Gippsland.
Our brave firefighters across are doing an amazing job to keep Gippsland residents safe from the recent Yinnar South and Bunyip bushfires while still managing the ongoing threats of the Rosedale, Walhalla, Thomson and Timbarra fires. These reports indicate that the scale of this disaster could have been avoided if back burning had of been done.
The reports of a 75% reduction in planned burning also confirms that the many areas within Gippsland are at risk of widespread bushfires because of a lack of back burning.
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission found that “prescribed burning is one of the main tools for fire management on public land”.
But despite this recommendation of the Royal Commission, the DELWP Annual Report reveals that the amount of planned burning in bushfire prone areas such as Gippsland has dropped from 234,614 hectares in 2014-15 to only 64,978 hectares in 2017-18, a reduction of almost 75% under the Andrews Labor Government.
These concerns were confirmed this week when Mr Andrew Clarke of Jinks Creek Winery, which has been destroyed by fire, said on 3AW: “I’ve been begging them [Forest Fire Management Victoria] for 20 years to burn off the state forest at the back of our place and still to this day it hasn’t happened.”
When these questions about Mr Andrew Clark’s winery were asked in Parliament today, Labor MPs yelled out “wrong”. Mr Clark has lost his business, he knows the back of his property hasn’t been back burned and Labor’s first response is to disrespect him and to effectively call him a liar.
Comments attributed to The National Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath MP
“I have personally spoken with a number of Gippsland residents impacted by bushfire over the weekend who have expressed the desperate need for more planned back burns across the state to remove the excessive fuel loads.
“The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission was unequivocal about the importance of prescribed burning as ‘one of the main tools for fire management on public land’.
That’s why it’s so important for the Andrews Labor Government to be upfront with regional Victorians about the true situation with prescribed burning.