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Climate-Related Fire Events - Resourcing
Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Last Friday, an estimated 8000 passionate, frightened young Tasmanians
gathered on parliament's lawns to demand action on climate.
Yesterday you laid out your Government's agenda for the next three years
and climate did not even rate a mention, yet you did touch on the
bushfires, without acknowledging climate change, towards the end of your
speech. People have lost their homes and their livelihoods and, as we
speak, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is still burning.
More than 3 per cent of the state has been torched.
It is a fact that your Government failed to adopt and resource all the
recommendations of the Dr Tony Press review and then made a decision to
ignore a cost-neutral plan from the Firefighters Union for stronger, more
effective remote firefighting response.
This summer is likely to be another scorcher with the Bureau of
Meteorology predicting a 70 per cent chance of an El Niño event.
Will you commit to ensuring the resourcing that is commended and required
to limit the damage caused by climate-related fire events in this May's
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her question.
Of course, climate change is an important issue for this Government, which
is why we have released strategies, policies and initiatives to deal with
it in a practical way. The Minister for the Environment will have more to
say about these matters, as we will as a government over the coming weeks,
months and years. We take these matters seriously. We recognise that a
government response is appropriate. It is under this Government that we
have made not only significant investments dealing with matters relating
to our climate and the environment. We were one of the first
jurisdictions to be emissions zero. We were actually net emissions state,
which is a positive advancement for Tasmania, we are leading the world in
many respects, and we intend to continue to do so.
We are increasing our efforts with respect to our fire response. The
current fire season will be the subject of a review -
Ms O'Connor - There have already been three reviews.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, warning one.
Mr HODGMAN - appropriately so. We have reacted and responded to the last
fire event. One of the most significant things we have done, which is
normally the subject of criticism by the Greens, is fuel reduction burning.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The question to the Premier
is: will he commit to providing the necessary resources in this May's
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. I believe the Premier heard that.
Mr HODGMAN - With our Budget in good shape - much better than it was in
your government - we are able to do more, including in responding to the
fire threat. We have done so with a $55 million fuel reduction burn
across the state, which the Greens are normally critical of. Whenever
there is a burn outside of the fire season they are the first to criticise
us. In this case, it has been suggested very clearly that our fuel
reduction burns on the west coast prevented a further spread of wild fire.
When it comes to the fire season our investment is significant - $55
You ask us about a commitment in the Budget. If you look at that, it is
most significant indeed. It comes in relation to other initiatives that
we have undertaken, following the last bushfire event. Certainly, we will
do so again following the independent review that is being undertaken in
relation to this.
Regarding our wilderness areas, we have a number of initiatives underway
to ensure that the research that has been done by the Tasmanian Government
with an additional $4 million in funding is supporting a number of the
research project's recommendations. Some have been implemented and others
are continuing to be progressed, due to their longer-term nature. The
recommendations include: improving bushfire management planning; bushfire
risk assessment and modelling; bushfire recovery; developing a model of
fire cover; and undertaking planned burning in the TWWHA.
The funding is also contributing to the Tasmanian Government's commitment
to meet national and international responsibilities to protect the
outstanding, universal value of the TWWHA. A committee meeting comprising
representatives from DPIPWE, the TFS and the Department of Premier and
Cabinet meets quarterly to monitor implementation of the recommendations.
One of the key outputs of the work currently being conducted is a
comprehensive TWWHA fire management plan that will contain: clear
objectives for fire management in the TWWHA; clarity regarding
circumstances in which priority will be given to protecting the
outstanding, universal value of the TWWHA over built assets; clear
objectives for the management burning in the TWWHA, including indigenous
and burning practices; and framework for monitoring impacts of bushfires
and planned burns in the TWWHA.
The Parks and Wildlife Service is also reviewing its immediate, medium-
and long-term fire suppression capabilities; reviewing the research
program on fire on natural and cultural heritage values; enhancing its
risk assessment tools, including the bushfire risk assessment model and
bushfire operational hazard model; revision mapping outlying vegetation
communities and other fire-sensitive vegetation communities in the TWWHA;
and conducting rehabilitation trials in areas of the TWWHA that were
impacted by the 2016 fire.
Ms O'Connor was part of a government that cut services. We have invested
heavily resourcing our firefighters to better prevent and fight fires.
This includes an unprecedented $55 million in fuel reduction strategies to
decrease the bushfire risk in Tasmania, which was not done under the
former government. These are a number of specific issues that we are
taking to protect our wilderness areas from fire. We have done more to
invest in our firefighting capabilities across the board. We are able to
better do so because our budget is now back in a strong condition and our
economy is strong. As we have said in our plan, we will continue to do it.