Australia — South Australia has refused to support the key burn-off recommendation of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
The commission’s findings are being used as a template for bushfire prevention Australia-wide and South Australian Emergency Services Minister Michael Wright said the state was supporting 60 of its 67 recommendations.
But on the crucially important recommendation that a minimum 5 per cent of public land be burnt off each year to reduce fuel load, Mr Wright said “more consultation” was needed.
Environment Minister Paul Caica said 2.8 per cent of public land in the heavily populated Mount Lofty Ranges east of Adelaide was burnt off last financial year.
He said his department aimed to increase the size of its prescribed burning program each year. “We are in the process of identifying those areas where a 5 per cent target may be appropriate,” he said.
But Conservation Council of South Australia chief executive Julie Pettett said a 5 per cent target on public land meant a “massive” increase in burn-offs.
She said while protection of human life was critical, so too was protection of native plants and animals.
“One of the key functions of public land is the protection of indigenous flora and fauna,” Ms Pettett said.
Port Lincoln Mayor Peter Davis, whose tuna-fishing town on the Eyre Peninsula, west of Adelaide, lost 16 homes to bushfires last December, said regular burn-offs to reduce fuel loads and the intensity of bushfires was common sense.