The Brumby Government has failed to provide assurances on when Victoria’s 43 level 3 bushfire Incident Control Centres (ICCs) will be fully manned with appropriately qualified personnel, Shadow Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
“When questioned before a Victorian Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearing, Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron would only say the government was ‘making progress’ on addressing the critical shortage of level 3 Incident Controllers for extreme weather days,” Mr Ryan said.
“More than 15 months since Black Saturday, the Minister still cannot provide even a target date despite this being a significant fire fighting staffing issue.”
The Bushfires Royal Commission Interim Report said it was unreasonable to place the burden of creating and then managing an Incident Management Team for a complex, fast-moving fire on unprepared and underqualified CFA personnel, as was the case at the Kilmore ICC on 7 February.
“The lack of preparedness, in so far as it affected the provision of information on fire to the public, meant that threat messages and warnings concerning this fire were not issued in a timely manner and failed to contain relevant details and information.”
Interim report 9.49
It recommended the Brumby Government ensure level 3 ICCs ‘are properly staffed and equipped to enable immediate operation in the case of a fire on high fire risk days’.
Mr Ryan said a 2006 CFA/DSE discussion paper had also alerted the State Government to a shortage of level 3 Incident Controllers but John Brumby failed to undertake appropriate measures to address the staffing crisis.
“Because level 3 controllers require several years of training, bushfire-prone communities deserve to know how many more bushfire seasons they will be forced to endure without an appropriate level of level 3 Incident Controllers,” Mr Ryan said.
Peter Ryan MLA
Member for Gippsland South | Deputy Premier
Minister for State Development | Minister for Regional and Rural Development