Shortcomings in the Brumby Government’s implementation plan for the Bushfires Royal Commission interim recommendations will leave Victorians dangerously unprepared this bushfire season, Shadow Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
“The government has notified the Bushfires Royal Commission that it will fail to have 11 of the 51 recommendations operational by the end of October,” Mr Ryan said.
Some of the recommendations that won’t be ready include:
• No new fire refuges will be in place for this fire season;
• Emergency warnings based on location of the mobile phones will not be achieved; and
• Township Protection Plans will be behind schedule and not be ready until mid-November, after which they still need to be communicated to the public.
“Counsel assisting the Bushfires Royal Commission, Jack Rush QC, has been critical of a lack of action by the Brumby Government on bushfire strategy,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Rush stated yesterday that Victoria lagged behind New South Wales in producing material to properly explain the new national system of fire danger warnings and the importance of the scale of fire threat.
“During the past ten years the Brumby Government has failed to make Victoria fire-safe,” Mr Ryan said.
“Labor ignored some 25 key bushfire-related warnings and recommendations between 2002 and 2008, only to have them repeated in the Bushfires Royal Commission interim recommendations.”
Mr Ryan said the Premier was now desperately trying to play catch-up on bushfire safety in an attempt to make up for Labor’s previous failings.
“The fact is many of these recommendations were known and should have been implemented by the government, but because of Labor’s failure Victoria remains dangerously unprepared this bushfire season,” Mr Ryan said.
“The implementation plan provided by the State Government does not provide Victorians with any confidence or certainty that they will be better protected this fire season then they were in the past.
“It is vital that a Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Ombudsman be appointed to hold the Brumby Government to account and ensure all of the Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations are implemented.”