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Bushfire Preparation and Response Capability

Parliamentary Activity - Thursday, 11 April 2019, Rosalie Woodruff MP


Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

This week a very hot bushfire at Dolphin Sands on the east coast started from an out-of-season planned burn-off. Fifty-six hectares of land and one building were burnt and residents were forced to flee their homes. The visiting Prime Minister yesterday skited about how successful the federal response to Tasmania's bushfires was, despite 6 per cent of the World Heritage area being burnt. He thinks the luck of a wind change that saved towns and irreplaceable iconic wilderness was all we need up our sleeve. Also, yesterday, 23 fire chiefs, including the former head of the Tasmanian Fire Service, Mike Brown, spoke up about the reality of climate change and fire, including the idea that a fire season is now a thing of the past. The fire manager, Bob Conroy, called on political parties to understand that climate change is upon us, it is perilous and we need to do more about it.

Premier, do you agree the Liberal Party has lost touch with reality? This coming summer is predicted to be an El Nino scorcher. Will you take a stand for your community against the tide of your coal-loving party and put substantial resourcing into this budget for climate change adaptation, for bushfire preparation, and response capability?

 

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I am pleased that the emergency warning for fire in Dolphin Sands has been downgraded to advice level. Around 128 hectares was burnt and there was no immediate threat. However, fire under these conditions can be difficult to control. I urge Tasmanians, especially those in the region, to follow the advice of the Tasmanian Fire Service and to stay informed. I also inform the member that fire investigators have determined that the cause of the Dolphin Sands fire to be an escaped hazard reduction burn being conducted by a landowner on private property.

The fuel reduction program initiated by this Government is significantly increasing its scope. It has reduced fuel loads across our state. It has helped protect communities that were under threat during the most recent fire season. It has been a massive investment by this state and this Government, $55 million, an unprecedented nation-leading approach to reducing that fuel load. It is a program that has often been selectively criticised outside the fire season by the party the member represents in this place.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It is a complete misrepresentation of the Greens' position. What we rail about is forestry burns, not genuine and scientifically grounded fuel reduction burns.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order, but I will take it as a point of clarification.

Mr HODGMAN - I can say to the member who asked the question, who obviously was not listening when she asked the same question last time we sat, that this Government takes climate change very seriously. It is an important issue for all Tasmanians, particularly younger Tasmanians concerned about their future. We understand that and we are taking action to deal with it.

We are a leader in so many respects in tackling climate change. In the areas of renewable energy, for example, in climate science, in research, Tasmania is leading the way. We, this Government, not the Greens, produced Climate Action 21, our action plan for 2017 to 2021 that sets out our agenda for action on climate change through to 2021. I am sure the students and all young Tasmanians would like to know that Tasmania has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to achieve zero net emissions.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It is important that the Premier understands this is because of the forest we protected under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. That is the science.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order either.

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The member is regularly abusing standing orders and interrupting the Premier.

Madam SPEAKER - I thank you for your contribution, Mr Barnett, but I am in charge here.

Mr HODGMAN - While there is much more we can do, Tasmania has achieved a lot and we should be proud of the fact -

Dr Woodruff - No, we have to do everything we can. This is a terrible crisis.

Mr HODGMAN - that under this Government Tasmania has become one of the first jurisdictions in the world, certainly in Australia, to be zero net emissions.

Ms O'Connor - Because of the forests that were protected.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, could I ask the Greens to please calm down.

Mr HODGMAN - Our Tasmania First energy policy will allow Tasmania to be 100 per cent renewable energy powered by 2022. That is a massive investment in our wonderful renewable energy sector, which is again nation-leading.

Our Government has allocated additional funds for a number of initiatives under the climate action plan that I referred to, into research, into improving energy efficiency, reducing transport emissions, supporting business, local government and communities to take action. It includes, for example, not only long-term reduction targets, supporting the roll out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in our state, providing for the Power$mart home and business programs, which provide financial support to Tasmanian households and small businesses to improve energy efficiency and reduce power bills.

We have, as we have said, a comprehensive targeted fuel reduction burning program, the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, we have modernised and upgraded our renewable hydroelectricity assets, invested in our infrastructure, in our irrigation networks as well to provide greater surety for farmers who are tackling issue relating to climate change.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance, standing order 45. The Premier has not addressed the question. It is about this coming budget, climate change adaptation this summer and bushfire preparation. You have not mentioned anything to do with this summer and the bushfires. Will you put the money into the budget?

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you, Dr Woodruff, it is not a point of order, and standing order 45 is completely useless to me.

Mr HODGMAN - When you talk about denial, the Greens are the climate change action plan deniers in this place. You will not accept that these things I am talking about are real actions to tackle issues of climate change, to assist our communities, are budgeted for and are being delivered. There will be ongoing commitments in the upcoming budget. Unfortunately, the Greens are being led in this instance by a Liberal Government that is taking real action on the issues of climate change. It is a serious issue and no matter how often the Greens want to stick their heads in the sand and deny what we are doing with climate change our record speaks for itself.