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Fire Season - Resources

15 October 2019

 

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for POLICE, FIRE and EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, Mr SHELTON

Queensland and New South Wales communities continue to fight intense bushfires that have burned since early September, killing people and destroying homes and farmland and hundreds of thousands of hectares of bushland.

In Tasmania, high fuel loads and dry conditions have had us on high alert for months. Volunteer firefighters around the state are valiantly redoubling efforts to reduce fuel and educate people to prepare for fires that could flare any day. Volunteers on the front line are preparing for the worst, but where are the funds to support them. You have grounded 80 TFS remote area firefighters, which puts more pressure on remaining Parks RAFs and leaves us with a devastating hole in firefighting capacity.

Tomorrow you have allocated a mere 20 to 30 minutes for MPs to be briefed by Police and Tasmania Fire Service on the 2019-20 bushfire season. Instead of a short internal briefing, you need to be telling all Tasmanians exactly what resources you will be putting into making sure the AFAC report's recommendations are completed for this current fire season.

 

ANSWER

Madam speaker, I thank the member for her question. I have brought my folder up because the member's question contains almost the whole fire brief. We know of the devastation of last year's bushfire and the impact that had on our communities. This year, the Tasmania Fire Service is being proactive in the process of reducing the risk to our communities. In that, they are implementing our nation-leading Fuel Reduction Program that has significantly reduced fire risk across the state.

We all have a role to play to be prepared in the upcoming bushfire season. The Tasmania Fire Service is talking to the community and progressing the Fuel Reduction Program. Part of the process the Tasmania Fire Service is undertaking in preparedness for the 201920 fire season is public education campaigns and strategic autumn and spring burns.

Dr Woodruff - That is not the question I asked. They are doing the work. What are you doing?

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff, please.

Mr SHELTON - They use predictive modelling. They exercise emergency management plans and ensure appropriate resource arrangements and the contract for the aircraft and the air desk. The member went on to talk about the AFAC Review, which is another brief I could spend five minutes talking about. The nine recommendations of the AFAC review -

Dr Woodruff - Spin will not protect communities. You are just doing political bushfires.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. I have to ask you to leave the Chamber.

Dr Woodruff - Madam Speaker, with respect, I have had one formal warning from you.

Madam SPEAKER - I beg your pardon. I have you down for two and this is your third.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, did you tell me about the second? I do not remember hearing it.

Madam SPEAKER - It does not mean you were not given it. I will give you one more chance. Please do not interrupt again.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I listen very carefully to what you tell us.

Madam SPEAKER - You have been chattering a lot, so I urge you to stop. Please proceed, minister.

Mr SHELTON - Thank you, Madam Speaker. There is a lot of effort going into the preparedness for this year's bushfire season. All of TFS is working very hard to make sure the community is aware of the issues of the fire season. It is predicted that the bushfire season this year will be around normal for most of parts of the west and the central part of Tasmania, but soil dryness, above normal as far as the fire predictions go for the east coast. That is where the emphasis of the fuel reduction burns are being placed and it is a matter of making sure we are out there.

One of the recommendations in the AFAC Review talks about the air desk and that being established. The Chief Officer has assured me the air desk will be operational for this fire season, with helicopters and aeroplanes already contracted under that process. There is a lot of work going into this year's bushfire season. We need to make sure that the people are educated and are aware of the fire risk. What we do not need to be doing is causing hysteria and creating panic in our regional communities. We need to be working with them to make sure that everybody is aware of how to keep themselves safe.