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Adjournment - Bushfire Risk

25 September 2019

 

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to raise some concerns shared with us by Margaretta Pos, a resident of the east coast who lives in the Falmouth area. She has written to us and to the Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage about her concerns about the bushfire risk in the Falmouth area and the whole of the east coast. She points to the reports from the Examiner and the Mercury, which have highlighted the great fire risk on the east coast, how dire that fire risk still is. Her concern is about the tinder-dry and flammable detritus in her area and the real concerns that, when a fire occurs, it would be a conflagration that would engulf her house and many others. I know these are concerns many people in rural areas have.

The Lord Mayor of Hobart, Anna Reynolds, made an important statement on the back of the comments by Mike Brown, the previous chief officer of the Tasmanian Fire Service, and many other experts and people who have served in the fire service, about the high risk of extreme fire in the dense, forested bushland areas around Hobart, spreading into Hobart and the possibility for 1967level fires here again. It is not a case, she said, of if, but of when.

People across Tasmania understand that last year's extreme, huge bushfires in the south-west, the Central Highlands area and in the north-west were not exceptional. They are part of a new, substantially changed climate system. It is a taste of the future for all of us, unfortunately, as the climate breaks down. We support Ms Pos' concerns. On behalf of her and other people in Tasmania, we will continue to raise the failure of the Government to put the resources into bushfire prevention.

The real concern we have is that the minister has not accepted the recommendations from the AFAC review into last year's bushfires. They have only been accepted in principle. There has been no indication of the level of budget resourcing put into those recommendations or even which ones are going to be carried out.

All of this has to be framed in the context of the global strike for climate. It is not just good enough for the Liberal and Labor Parties to acknowledge the concern of those students who marched. Acknowledging the concern is simply recognising from looking outside the window upstairs in parliament that they are there. That is not enough.

Labor stood with the Government on this.

Ms Butler - No, I was there. I went to the climate strike.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, they stood here in the House and voted to acknowledge the concern and not to support them. We must support young people who understand the science. We must be the voice in this place of reason and of science. That is the only way forward in the future. We cannot continue to sit in a business-as-usual mode. It is comfortable, it is what we know, it is what we think we can scrape through on, but it is very wrong to continue to think that way. It is not only wrong, it is dangerous if we knowingly continue down this path of lies and deceit.

We are responsible. We will ultimately be held to be climate criminals as governments, like the Australian Government ought to be called, governments are being held to task by their citizens and taken to court for their failure to act. We too, run that risk and it is not the risk of going to court that should drive us, it is the risk of the future that will unfold if we do not do everything we can to bring down emissions and help people adapt to the changing climate.