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Shelton Fails to Reassure Tasmanians on Bushfire Preparedness

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Tags: Bushfires, Remote Area Firefighters, Fire Management, Climate Change

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Fire and Emergency Management spokesperson

The catastrophic fires in the northern states are a tragic reminder of the climate emergency unfolding around us.

Last fire season, we had assistance from interstate fire authorities. With Queensland and New South Wales authorities seeing no end in sight for this year’s horror fire season, Tasmania can’t rely on the help from outside when we need it most.

When asked this morning, the Minister for Police Fire and Emergency Management, Mark Shelton, refused to disclose when our full contingent of Tasmania Fire Service remote area firefighters will be ready to be deployed.

Nor would he disclose why he has failed to skill up volunteer crews for remote firefighting.

The two major independent bushfire reviews – Dr Tony Press' in 2016, and the AFAC review in June – both recommended the state’s remote area firefighting capacity be expanded.

With longer, hotter fire seasons expected now and into the future, Tasmania needs to be as self-reliant as possible in trained firefighters – both paid and volunteer.

The Premier also referred to preparing for 'when the fire season hits’ in his Parliamentary contribution. News flash, it started last month when fires threatened homes on the East Coast and were at emergency levels in Lachlan and in the Central Highlands.

The fire season has already started and we have less remote area firefighting capacity than this time last year. The Hodgman Government has failed to prioritise the necessary resources to ensure our Remote Area Team firefighters are safety trained and operational.

Hundreds of businesses and schools are closed across New South Wales today, and Sydney is confronting its first ever recorded catastrophic fire conditions. Here, Tasmania Fire Service have warned the changed climate means we should expect our current fire season to continue for 5-6 months.

Minister Shelton and his Liberal colleagues can’t avoid talking about the climate heating that’s driving the increasingly intense bushfire conditions. Seasoned firefighters are desperately pleading with them to listen and provide the proper resources to keep Tasmanians safe.

The Minister, once again, displayed a disturbing business-as-usual response to questions today.

It’s past time the Liberals moved us into proactive preparation for an emergency footing and ensured resources can be, and are, mobilised. It's public safety that is at stake.