It has been revealed Victoria bushfire response system is in jeopardy with regional Victoria vulnerable to wildfire because of Labor’s plans to close the native timber industry.
During the 2019-20 bushfire season 34 native timber contract businesses, contributed 190 pieces of specialised machinery that provided critical fire mitigation response.
These contractors and their specialised equipment for hardwood trees and steep terrain are the first responders for any bushfire emergency in Victoria.
Labor’s decision to close the native timber industry has also removed Victoria’s first responders and equipment for bushfire emergencies.
In State Parliament, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath today challenged the Minister for Emergency Services to explain how the Andrews Government will protect regional communities from bushfire in the absence of native timber contractors and their specialised machinery.
“Yet the Minister for Emergency Services refused to answer what the Andrews Government is doing to protect regional Victoria from future bushfire emergences without these specialists and their equipment.
“The Minister’s vague response that focused on conversations around future carers and opportunities is completely unacceptable.
“It’s no secret the CFA and regional Victorians are concerned – we deserve to know what’s the plan?”
Ms Bath said during the devasting East Gippsland bushfires 284 native timber employees used their knowledge and skills to allow the firefighting effort to happen.
“Native timber machinery is needed to install fire breaks, open vital roads, fell dangerous trees and save human lives, protect property and our bush.
“The risk to life, property and our environment from bushfire is real and it’s not a futuristic prediction
“Undoubtedly any new bushfire will have far worse consequences for our community, the environment, livestock, and our native wildlife than it has had in the past.
“The native timber industry closure is being fast tracked – bolstered by vexatious court injunctions from green groups taking advantage of loopholes in the Timber Code of Practice that Labor has continually refused to close.
“Contractors who played a critical role responding to the 2019-20 bushfires in Gippsland are being forced to significantly reduce their workforce as green lawfare is reducing the number coupes available for harvest.
“It’s disgraceful that Labor is deliberating forfeiting our bushfire response and compromising the safety of regional Victorians.”