The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has called on the Andrews Labor Government to recommit to a 5 per cent annual fuel reduction burning target.
Mr O’Brien said the devastating East Gippsland bushfires have sadly highlighted the error of Labor’s decision to abandon planned burning recommendations from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC).
“The Royal Commission considered expert evidence following the horrific 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and made a clear recommendation that the Victorian State Government should conduct fuel reduction burns on 5 per cent of public land per year to reduce bushfire risk,” Mr O’Brien said. “This equates to around 390,000 hectares per year.
“The Andrews Labor Government abandoned the VBRC recommendation and consequently, far less planned burning has taken place, despite assurances to the contrary at the time.
“In Parliament this week the Liberal Nationals Coalition called on the Premier to again make the Royal Commission’s hectare-based target the basis of Victoria’s planned burning objectives, in addition to a revised residual risk reduction target.”
The Nationals are also calling for incorporation of indigenous fire practices, including the “Return of the Firestick” which they committed to at the last election; and improved state forest, Crown land and roadside vegetation management to reduce bushfire risk.
“Our indigenous Australians managed the landscape with fire for eons and they did it through all seasons and in many different landscapes. The bush has changed since 1788 but we could do worse than utilise some of the techniques aborigines used for thousands of years.”
Mr O’Brien said the people of Gippsland South had given him strong feedback that more fuel reduction burning must be undertaken.
The Nationals Leader, Peter Walsh said Daniel Andrews must act immediately to implement fuel reduction targets to help protect the Victorian community from the devastation of bushfire.
“We must learn lessons from the past,” he said.
Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien said Victorians don’t want history repeated.
“The recent bushfires are a stark reminder of just how fire-prone Victoria is, and the risks communities are exposed to if public land isn’t responsibly managed.”