Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader
On the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend, Forestry Tasmania set fire to a logged coupe in the Styx. It subsequently escaped containment and threatened the Styx Tall Trees Reserve, the World Heritage Area, a mountain bike event at Maydena and the wine and hops’ harvests.
What began on a logged coupe as a fire covering about 30 hectares has now scorched 200 hectares.
When we asked the Premier and Minister for Tourism in Question Time today about Forestry Tasmania’s reckless burn just six days after the end of Summer and with a high fuel load on the ground, he was dismissive.
These are not just the concerns of the Greens’, but those of Derwent Valley residents, tourism operators and primary producers. The smoke that billowed from Forestry Tasmania’s runaway fire put the grape and hop harvests at risk, and caused local tourist businesses to cancel bookings.
Last week, those locals were following Tasmania Fire Service advice as the deliberately lit fire at the Styx grew rapidly – fearing for their properties, the wilderness and their businesses. Today, the Premier was talking it down as a small burn.
There is an MOU between Forestry Tasmania and the agriculture and tourism industries that commits the GBE to, ‘Avoiding conducting planned burns where there is a significant risk of adversely affecting the experience of visitors attending events.’ As we understand, the TICT’s Luke Martin only found out the logging burn in the Styx when he smelled smoke in the air.
When we asked the Premier, as Minister for Tourism, about the breached MOU, he refused to answer. In doing so, he dismissed operators and producers in the Derwent Valley – and, as more logging fires are lit by Forestry Tasmania, their colleagues around the state.
By dismissing the out of control Styx bushfire, which sat at an ‘Advice’ level on the TFS website, as a small fire he is blurring the clear communication of emergency responders.
Having just led Tasmania through a global pandemic, the Premier knows all too well how misinformation and distrust in emergency communication can put lives at risk.
The Premier and Tourism Minister’s response today not only let down tourism operators and primary producers, it made a mockery of his own, ‘Come Down for Air’ tourism campaign. It also risked compromising public safety into the future.
His answer to a serious question from the Greens was irresponsible on every measure.