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Police, Fire and Emergency Management - Bushfire Mitigation

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Bushfires, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, last year your department released a draft Bushfire Mitigation Measures Bill 2020 for consultation and it was widely panned by every, single organisation and key stakeholder I have been able to speak to. I do not recall hearing supportive comments from anybody. The Local Government Association of Tasmania were particularly clear in a range of concerns they have with the bill. I do not have time to go into all the specifics, but pretty much the whole thing, in the majority of people's views, needs to be thrown out and we need to have a real conversation about the most effective way to mitigate the increase in frequency and severity of bushfires projected for Tasmania. My question is, the unintended consequences of enacting the bill as it was presented would have been not only disastrous for natural and cultural heritage in Tasmania, but it would have had a number of quite dangerous unintended consequences for other emergency extreme events. I would like you to talk us through where your department is in relation to what that bill was proposing to do and what you are doing to address the need for mitigation but also the extreme unintended consequences, the litigation and the other damage the bill would have enabled.

Mrs PETRUSMA - I agree with you, concerns were raised in regards to the bushfire mitigation measures during that consultation process. We have listened to that feedback and that is why under the Fire Service Act review consultation process that those measures will be considered as part of that. That is why we are including the feedback with those measures under the Bushfire Mitigation Bill in regards to the review of the Fire Service Act.

Dr WOODRUFF - Who drafted that bill because -

Mrs PETRUSMA - It was before my time.

Dr WOODRUFF - Maybe someone else will be able to answer the question because it seemed to have been something that was drafted in DPAC. I do not understand it was drafted in consultation with the Tasmanian Fire Service. The concerns raised will have a serious and profound effect if the measures in the bill are implemented, for example, the increased risk of landslip after extreme flooding events if there was the scale of mechanical clearing proposed around people's houses. A real quagmire of litigation issues, a deep concern for Tasmania's natural and cultural heritage; a panel of people who are going to make decisions about bushfire mitigation measures who were not the appropriate experts.

All of this has been done it seems without one of the most important bodies being involved, The Tasmanian Fire Service.

Can we find out if the TFS was involved in drafting that bill?

Mrs PETRUSMA - All I can now is that under the Fire Service Act Review now being conducted, DPFEM will be in charge of that bill. There will be across-agency committee but TFS will definitely be intimately involved in the development of this new bill.

Dr WOODRUFF - You will not say if they were involved in the Bushfire Mitigations Measures Bill? Were you involved in drafting it?

Mrs PETRUSMA - We have a new Chief Officer here as well as a new minister.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is there no corporate history? It would be nice to know that there is a bit of corporate history.

Mr HARPER - The TFS was involved in some of the committee work that looked at the Bushfire Bill. Fundamentally, the bill was drafted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and we were provided an opportunity to speak to the bill.

Dr WOODRUFF - Was TFS comfortable with the draft bill and what it was proposing.

Mr HARPER - We had concerns. We felt there needed to be more work on the bill and we are pleased to see it has now been rolled into the Fire Service Act Review.