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More Action Needed on Bushfire Preparedness

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Tags: Bushfires, Fire Management, Firefighters

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Leader

With an uncontrolled blaze in Tasmania’s southern Midlands, the 2023-24 bushfire season is already underway. However, despite months of experts’ warnings of a particularly dangerous summer, resourcing for community preparedness in Tasmania remains worryingly inadequate.

The fact Australia is entering an El Niño climate cycle further highlights the gravity of this situation. Given the predicted heat, dry conditions, and volatile wind, we cannot be complacent.

Eminent bushfire scientist Professor David Bowman told ABC Radio this morning it’s a real possibility the state will see multiple days of catastrophic bushfire conditions in the coming months. It’s crucial Tasmanians are better prepared than they’ve ever been for this fire season – a season which is already upon us.

With the serious challenges ahead, it should be Minister Felix Ellis’s top priority to put additional resourcing into helping Tasmanians get ready for bushfires and to have realistic evacuation plans ready to go. The Greens are very concerned the government’s approach to ensuring community safety does not recognise the challenges many Tasmanians face, nor the time it can take to get properly prepared.

We are hearing that critically important local volunteer brigades don’t have enough financial and administrative resources to properly educate their community about fire preparedness and response, nor to support the on-ground work that is necessary.

We also are concerned at the apparent lack of evacuation planning for large populations during possible protracted days of catastrophic fire risk. If thousands of people need to leave their home for days at a time during dangerous fire conditions, what’s the government’s plan for shelter, food and water? Providing this information isn’t alarmist – it gives people peace of mind their government has things under control.

Given the severity of fire risk this season, there is a disturbing underinvestment in widespread advertising on commercial television and social media about fire safety planning.

There is no place for penny-pinching when it comes to bushfire preparedness and community safety, and the Minister must immediately rectify this situation by providing all the resourcing and support needed for brigade-level education, widespread community awareness raising, and on-ground preparation.