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Shelton Dismisses Firefighter Warnings

26 Nov 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Police, Fire and Emergency Management spokesperson

The Minister for Police Fire and Emergency Services has ignored genuine concerns from firefighters and the Tasmanian community about under-resourcing and lack of staff and volunteers for months. In Parliament today, Mr Shelton attempted to distract from botched firefighting preparations by scorning the senior Tasmania Fire Service staff who have confirmed “it’s luck that’s getting us by” when it comes to managing bushfire emergencies.

These TFS staff members simply have the best interests of Tasmanians at heart. They clearly felt they had no choice but to blow the whistle on substantial staffing shortfalls and a lack of training for firefighters.

More concerning, Minister Shelton also appeared to be laying the groundwork to explain a future bushfire response failure. In response to a Greens’ question on remote area training being curtailed by limited contract helicopter hours, he said “it’s not practical or economically feasible for each jurisdiction to equip itself for all likely scenarios”.

We must be prepared for all bushfire scenarios.

Minister Shelton is in denial of the climate reality of changed behaviour and increased severity of bushfires. He has not allocated the resourcing recommended for volunteer recruitment and rapid remote area response.

If there is not enough funds allocated in the current Budget, resources must be diverted. 

Governments must prioritise public safety.

Minister Shelton has failed to take this issue seriously enough. We still haven’t had a response to our letter, sent four weeks ago, asking for implementation details of the AFAC review recommendations - a major recommendation of which was an expanded remote area response capability.

Mr Shelton has assured Tasmanians we should have every confidence in the Tasmanian Fire Service to protect us this season. When firefighters are publicly saying “it’s luck that’s getting us by”, how can anyone feel reassured and safe under this government? 

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