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Bushfire Preparation and Response Capability

11 April 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

This week a very hot bushfire at Dolphin Sands on the east coast started 
from an out-of-season planned burn-off. Fifty-six hectares of land and 
one building were burnt and residents were forced to flee their homes. 
The visiting Prime Minister yesterday skited about how successful the 
federal response to Tasmania's bushfires was, despite 6 per cent of the 
World Heritage area being burnt. He thinks the luck of a wind change that 
saved towns and irreplaceable iconic wilderness was all we need up our 
sleeve. Also, yesterday, 23 fire chiefs, including the former head of the 
Tasmanian Fire Service, Mike Brown, spoke up about the reality of climate 
change and fire, including the idea that a fire season is now a thing of 
the past. The fire manager, Bob Conroy, called on political parties to 
understand that climate change is upon us, it is perilous and we need to 
do more about it. 

Premier, do you agree the Liberal Party has lost touch with reality? This 
coming summer is predicted to be an El Nino scorcher. Will you take a 
stand for your community against the tide of your coal-loving party and 
put substantial resourcing into this budget for climate change adaptation, 
for bushfire preparation, and response capability?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I am pleased that the 
emergency warning for fire in Dolphin Sands has been downgraded to advice 
level. Around 128 hectares was burnt and there was no immediate threat. 
However, fire under these conditions can be difficult to control. I urge 
Tasmanians, especially those in the region, to follow the advice of the 
Tasmanian Fire Service and to stay informed. I also inform the member 
that fire investigators have determined that the cause of the Dolphin 
Sands fire to be an escaped hazard reduction burn being conducted by a 
landowner on private property. 

The fuel reduction program initiated by this Government is significantly 
increasing its scope. It has reduced fuel loads across our state. It has 
helped protect communities that were under threat during the most recent 
fire season. It has been a massive investment by this state and this 
Government, $55 million, an unprecedented nation-leading approach to 
reducing that fuel load. It is a program that has often been selectively 
criticised outside the fire season by the party the member represents in 
this place.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It is a complete 
misrepresentation of the Greens' position. What we rail about is forestry 
burns, not genuine and scientifically grounded fuel reduction burns.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order, but I will take it as a 
point of clarification.

Mr HODGMAN - I can say to the member who asked the question, who obviously 
was not listening when she asked the same question last time we sat, that 
this Government takes climate change very seriously. It is an important 
issue for all Tasmanians, particularly younger Tasmanians concerned about 
their future. We understand that and we are taking action to deal with it.

We are a leader in so many respects in tackling climate change. In the 
areas of renewable energy, for example, in climate science, in research, 
Tasmania is leading the way. We, this Government, not the Greens, 
produced Climate Action 21, our action plan for 2017 to 2021 that sets out 
our agenda for action on climate change through to 2021. I am sure the 
students and all young Tasmanians would like to know that Tasmania has 
become the first jurisdiction in Australia to achieve zero net emissions.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It is important that the 
Premier understands this is because of the forest we protected under the 
Tasmanian Forest Agreement. That is the science.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order either.

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The member is regularly 
abusing standing orders and interrupting the Premier.

Madam SPEAKER - I thank you for your contribution, Mr Barnett, but I am in 
charge here.

Mr HODGMAN - While there is much more we can do, Tasmania has achieved a 
lot and we should be proud of the fact - 

Dr Woodruff - No, we have to do everything we can. This is a terrible 
crisis.

Mr HODGMAN - that under this Government Tasmania has become one of the 
first jurisdictions in the world, certainly in Australia, to be zero net 
emissions.

Ms O'Connor - Because of the forests that were protected.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, could I ask the Greens to please calm down.

Mr HODGMAN - Our Tasmania First energy policy will allow Tasmania to be 
100 per cent renewable energy powered by 2022. That is a massive 
investment in our wonderful renewable energy sector, which is again nation-
leading.

Our Government has allocated additional funds for a number of initiatives 
under the climate action plan that I referred to, into research, into 
improving energy efficiency, reducing transport emissions, supporting 
business, local government and communities to take action. It includes, 
for example, not only long-term reduction targets, supporting the roll out 
of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in our state, providing for 
the Power$mart home and business programs, which provide financial support 
to Tasmanian households and small businesses to improve energy efficiency 
and reduce power bills.

We have, as we have said, a comprehensive targeted fuel reduction burning 
program, the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, we have modernised 
and upgraded our renewable hydroelectricity assets, invested in our 
infrastructure, in our irrigation networks as well to provide greater 
surety for farmers who are tackling issue relating to climate change.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance, standing order 45. 
The Premier has not addressed the question. It is about this coming 
budget, climate change adaptation this summer and bushfire preparation. 
You have not mentioned anything to do with this summer and the bushfires. 
Will you put the money into the budget?

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you, Dr Woodruff, it is not a point of order, and 
standing order 45 is completely useless to me.

Mr HODGMAN - When you talk about denial, the Greens are the climate change 
action plan deniers in this place. You will not accept that these things 
I am talking about are real actions to tackle issues of climate change, to 
assist our communities, are budgeted for and are being delivered. There 
will be ongoing commitments in the upcoming budget. Unfortunately, the 
Greens are being led in this instance by a Liberal Government that is 
taking real action on the issues of climate change. It is a serious issue 
and no matter how often the Greens want to stick their heads in the sand 
and deny what we are doing with climate change our record speaks for 
itself.