Scepticism at bush fire code

Scepticism at bush fire code

13 September 2006

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Albury, New South Wales, Australia — The Victorian Government’s new fire management code of practice for public lands was unimpressive and offers the North East glib lipservice, the Bush Users Group said yesterday.

Indigo branch secretary Win Morgan was sceptical of the code’s promise to consult local people, a main criticism of the Department of Sustainability and Environment during the 2003 fires.

“I should jolly well hope they should but we won’t know until it actually happens whether or not this is just lipservice,” she said.

“We’ve had a lot of input into this code because we felt the local communities were absolutely ignored during the 2003 fires, and with disastrousresults.

“It’s one thing to say it — I just hope they keep their word.”

Alpine Conservation and Access Group vice president Jack Hicks, felt the code of practice still ignored some key points and lacked interventionstrategies.

“We really wanted the input to go in before the fires went up — this is really nothing more than they said after the 2003 fires,” hesaid.

“We want active management and maintenance of our public lands using more fuel reduction burns and re-introducinggrazing.

“Every summer there will be lightning strikes and if there’s enough undergrowth it willburn.

“Once the fire goes up, that’s the CFA’s job to put it out, and if the fuel load is too high and the fire’s too hot to send increws, no one can do anything much.

“It’s very important that we have proper management of our forests.”

The department’s manager of emergency co-ordination, Rachaele May, said although the code was not reviewed in response to criticism of their firefighting efforts in 2003, it did contain some valuable lessons learnt from it.

“It was due to be overhauled in 2005 and it really did need it,” she said.

“We received more than 170 submissions and held extensive public consultation to address the issues of fire management planning and the utilisation of localknowledge.”

Ms May said the plan would be audited annually and fire-fighting strategies would now be linked with municipal plans to ensure a more co-ordinatedeffort.

For a copy of the code go to or telephone the department on 1300 366 356.


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