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Southern Tasmania Total Fire Ban

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Tags: Bushfires

Southern Tasmania Total Fire Ban: Rosalie Woodruff, 29 October, 2019


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I was going to speak on the smoke that we can smell in the Chamber right now. Although the minister is trying to put some comforting words into this situation, the level of wind is deeply concerning and I do not think he has really stated the level of severe threat that communities around Lachlan are facing right now. The Fire Service has an emergency alert. There are a substantial number of personnel already there fighting those fires and resources are heading that way. It is the case that Moss Beds Road and Top Swamp Road are under heavy smoke, houses are under threat now according to the Tasmania Fire Service and they say there is a high risk in that area.

There is a total fire ban in the south today and the TFS, as of an hour and a half ago, are confronting 20 fires around the state. Their predictions are that on Thursday the conditions will be far worse because the winds are stronger. We hope that tonight with the cooling and a bit of rain that the conditions may abate somewhat but they cannot change the reality, which the minister and his Government fails to discuss, which is that these are normal conditions. This is not a normal spring. There are no normal conditions -

Mr Shelton - If you had have turned up you would have listened to what the Chief Fire Officer had to say.

Ms O'Connor - I beg your pardon? We had representatives there for a 20-minute briefing.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, through the Chair, please.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is not quite common to have conditions like this. In fact, the only other time the Hobart City Council manager mentioned that these conditions have been seen, in at least the living memory of people in Hobart, was before the 1967 bushfire season. John Fisher, the Hobart City Council and bushland manager, said that today. There is right now at UTAS a series of experts from the Fire Service, if they are available - they may well be unable to attend that public discussion - and fire ecologist, Alex - I do not remember his surname, from overseas - who is here right now and they are talking about the extraordinary situation. They know the reality of the climate emergency that we are in. These are not normal conditions.

The winter we have just been through has not had -

Mr Shelton - So you're more of an expert than the Chief Fire Officer.

Madam SPEAKER - Mr Shelton, please.

Dr WOODRUFF - I listened to the words of Mike Brown, the previous Chief Fire Commissioner, as he stood at the global climate strike on 20 September and talked to the 20 000 people who were there, and you did not turn up to listen. If you had listened to Mike Brown he would have you this is a climate emergency, we are in a climate breakdown, this is not normal and it will continue to not be normal. We do not respond in an emergency with BAU, or business as usual.

This is not the normal way to respond to an emergency. It is very serious and I hope that this Government comes into this place tomorrow and tells us where the resources are that were promised to respond to the review. How much money has been put towards bushfire prevention in Tasmania? How much money has been put towards the Tasmania Fire Service and the volunteers who are out there today and will be there probably every day between now and we do not know when, fighting fires in Tasmania?

Come on, we have to wake up. This is not just the equinox and the normal warm and windy conditions for this time of year. That is not what is going on here. It is orange outside and it is windy. We can smell bushfire smoke in this Chamber but it is nothing like what people in Lachlan are experiencing. We have had Professor David Bowman warn us about the threat to Hobart from fires like this starting under just these winds, rocketing along Mt Wellington, funnelling through along the Derwent River catchment area into Hobart. The Lord Mayor of Hobart, Anna Reynolds, today said she cannot guarantee the city will get through the season unscathed. It is good to hear a leader be real about what is going on and thank you to her for being real.

If only we could get those sorts of words from this Government. Just accept what is going on. You cannot do everything. We are not expecting you to have an answer. There are not answers to some of these things. It is not easy, but we need recognition. We need people to hear the reality of what is going on so they can confront it with the right response. We are a community. We will work together. We have to confront this together and we need leaders who will speak the truth.