Australia — The Victorian government has set aside $5 million in its budget for the first stage of buying properties in high-risk bushfire areas.
The coalition has promised to implement all of the Bushfire Royal Commission’s recommendations, including buying out properties in the riskiest areas.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said $5 million would be invested in 2011/12 in the first stage of the retreat and resettlement policy for the non-compulsory acquisition of land.
“This scheme will give eligible bushfire survivors who are unable or unwilling to rebuild the chance to move on and buy elsewhere,” Mr Ryan, the minister for bushfire response, said.
He said the government would seek advice from residents in high-risk areas before starting the program.
Former Labor premier John Brumby had rejected the commission’s buyout recommendation, saying it could actually increase fire risk by leaving some homes surrounded by empty overgrown properties and would be too costly at as much as $20 billion.
The government also confirmed in the budget that $50 million would be provided to fund safer electricity assets.
“We recognise this is an enormous and expensive task, but it is one that simply cannot be ignored,” Mr Ryan said.
The royal commission recommended replacing overhead power lines with underground cables, but Labor also rejected that proposal.
The state budget also provides funds specifically for the Murrindindi Shire, whose towns such as Kinglake, Marysville and Flowerdale were among those hit hardest by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
Premier Ted Baillieu said the government was providing $1.2 million for the shire’s economic recovery and $1 million for the council to meet the ongoing costs of bushfire reconstruction projects.
The Country Fire Authority welcomed a $67 million injection to build 60 new or upgraded stations and roll out 101 new firefighting vehicles over the next 12 months.