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Liberal Spin Won't Protect Communities from Bushfires

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Tags: Bushfires, Climate Change, Community Safety

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

Volunteers on the frontline of bushfire protection are preparing for another major fire season, but the only firefighting effort the Minister for Police Fire and Emergency Services is attempting is political.

When questioned by the Greens about the government’s failure to provide firefighters with the support they need, Minister Shelton responded by exhorting the community to be more prepared.

Education is a critical part of bushfire preparedness, but it isn’t good enough to just leave it to property owners to protect their property. People need to know firefighters will be working with their community and in wilderness, if needed.

Under-funding has seen 80 TFS Remote Area firefighters remain grounded, increasing the pressure on remaining Parks firefighters and leaving a gaping, unsafe hole in Tasmania’s firefighting capacity.

Minister Shelton has allocated 20 to 30 minutes for Members of Parliament to be briefed by the Police and TFS on the 2019-20 bushfire season tomorrow.

Instead of a short internal briefing, the Minister should be providing information to the public, reassuring them that resources have been allocated to implementing the AFAC review’s recommendations for this current fire season.

As a result of climate-related weather, dry undergrowth around many towns have meant Tasmanian Fire Service volunteers have already been on fire alert for months. The east coast is tinderbox dry and volunteers across the state are valiantly redoubling efforts to reduce fuel and educate people to prepare for fires that could flare any day.

The Minister continues to deny Tasmanians their right to know how much money he has directed to fund the extra firefighting capacity demanded in the 2019 bushfire review.

Liberal spin won’t protect communities when the next intense fires are burning.

The AFAC’s recommendations should have been funded in full already. Unless they are in place before summer, the Liberals are leaving Tasmanian communities and our irreplaceable wilderness at high risk, with unsupported firefighters.