A Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government will take real action to prevent bushfires by beginning crucial work to replace ageing electricity assets, Shadow Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
“Only the Coalition has a plan to deliver a safer Victoria by acting on all the Bushfires Royal Commission final recommendations,” Mr Ryan said.
“This is demonstrated by our commitment to begin the task of renewing ageing electricity assets, the failure of which started five of the major fires on Black Saturday, including the Kilmore East fire that ultimately claimed 119 lives.
“In direct response to recommendation 27 of the Royal Commission, the Coalition will create a
$50 million fund to commence the 10 year process of replacing distribution assets in the areas of highest bushfire risk.
“With matching commitments from distribution companies, work would be able to start immediately to help prevent any further tragic loss of life in future bushfires.”
“The initial task will be to conduct extensive analysis of the current state of the distribution system in high bushfire risk areas and to gauge the nature and cost of remedial work needed to fix it.
“Various reports and opinions have been advanced, but no comprehensive investigation has been undertaken. This work will be done in conjunction with the distribution companies.”
Mr Ryan said the Brumby Government was not prepared to take the necessary action to prevent deadly fires from breaking out in the future.
“We accept that our announcement today heralds the beginning of an enormous work program to overhaul dangerous and out-of-date electricity assets across Victoria, but we take the view that anything less is not an option,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Royal Commission found that failing electricity assets has been a primary cause of catastrophic fires in Victoria during the past 40 years and the situation will only get worse as components of the distribution network pass the end of their engineering lives.
“The extent of Labor’s commitment is a taskforce to look into the problem and John Brumby will leave it to Victorian families to fund these vital upgrades through their electricity bills.
“Unlike Labor, we will not leave it up to electricity distributors and households alone to fund this important work. We will get the ball rolling with an immediate commitment of $50 million.
“We anticipate that additional funding will be made available in later years to continue the ten year work program recommended by the Royal Commission,” Mr Ryan said.