The Nationals challenge Labor’s bureaucratic bushfire backburning approval process

Backburning on crown land during bushfires is set remain a torturous bureaucratic process after Labor’s Minister for Emergency Services, Jacyln Symes refused to acknowledge a significant issue with the approvals process.

During Question Time today, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Public Land Use and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath called on Minister Symes to detail what action she will take to streamline the back burning approvals to better protect forests and communities from mega-bushfires.

With the new bushfire season fast approaching and fuel loads at a three year high, Ms Bath again raised the concerns of experienced CFA officers who were forced to make repeated back burn requests to save the Bemm River community during the Black Summer bushfires.

“State Government agencies ignored legitimate requests for weeks, before permission was finally granted at the last moment placing CFA volunteers in a more dangerous position than was necessary.

“Instead of committing to streamline the backburning approvals process, Minister Symes has instead hidden behind government advisers.

“Furthermore, the Minister’s response brought into question her understanding of the difference between preparatory burns that reduce forest floor fuel loads and backburning which creates a fire break during a major bushfire event and suppresses active fire.”

Ms Bath said regional communities deserve to know that the Labor Government will make the right decisions and not put lives, livelihoods, and habitat at risk.

“There’s no confidence that the Labor Government will make appropriate decisions to mitigate and suppress bushfire threats given its green ideology, past mistakes and failures.

“Labor’s continually fails to listen to local knowledge and decades of hands on bushfire suppression experience.

“As we head into what’s predicted to be a long dry hot summer, it’s cold comfort for regional Victorians to hear Labor’s Minister for Emergency Services is refusing to even acknowledge there is a legitimate problem in the convoluted backburning permissions process.

“The Nationals are calling on Labor to better enable local first responders to protect communities and our forest habitats.”