AUSTRALIA – Frontline emergency service workers who tackled the devastating bushfires and coronavirus pandemic will be given free access to some of the state’s leading tourist attractions.
Described as a “small gesture to say a big thank you”, Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced a four-week fee freeze for Phillip Island tourist sites for police officers, firefighters, SES members and frontline medical staff.
The free access will include tickets to the world-famous Penguin Parade, Phillip Island Koala Reserve, Antarctic World or Churchill Island and will expire on June 6.
Earlier on Saturday Ms D’Ambrosio announced millions of dollars will be spent on high-tech equipment and employing skilled firefighters in a bid to reduce the risk of bushfires again ravaging parts of Victoria.
The Andrews government will allocate more than $500 million of the next state budget – due to be handed down on May 20 – to prepare the state’s bushfire defence.
The budget boost will also include $133 million for new digital radios for Forest Fire Management Victoria staff, to help them communicate with other emergency services when working in remote areas of the state.
The government will also allocate $339.5 million to continue to fund firefighters from Forest Fire Management Victoria by providing fire towers, equipment and up-to-date technology.
The government has also responded to calls by the Inspector General for Emergency Management for greater coordination between fire authorities to reduce the risk of bushfires on public and private land.
In response, the state government will provide more than $21 million for a new Office of Bushfire Risk Management to bring together land and fire managers.
A further $15.6 million will be spent on fuel management targeting long grasses and other flammable undergrowth, particularly along major road and rail corridors.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the investment was a way of thanking the state’s firefighters for their incredible work.
“Our first responders and local communities band together to do an incredible job protecting Victorians throughout bushfire season,” she said.
“While we can’t ever thank them enough – we can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure they need to reduce the risk of the next bushfire season.”