New South Wales, Australia — The ACT opposition has taken federal forestriesminister Senator Eric Abetz on a tour of the Weston Creek sites that weredevastated in the 2003 Canberra bushfire.
Opposition leader Bill Stefaniak was apparently due to leadthe tour, starting at Tharwa fire shed, yesterday morning, and finishing atCanberra’s bushfire memorial later in the day.
Shadow environment minister Richard Mulcahy also came along.
The tour was apparently part of a wider fact-finding missionalong the south-eastern states for the senator.
Mr Stefaniak said the tour has highlighted issues about howour land is being managed.
“The issues are poor management leading up to the firesand subsequent failure to learn the lessons of responsible conservation ofnational parks and forests,” he said.
“It is time that we cast off the blinkers and took along, clear-eyed look at how our land is being managed.”
“The 2003 fires were the signal worst example ofmismanagement of national parks and forests by the states and territory.”
The senator himself says both political parties must resistthe Greens’ efforts to restrict clearing of forest litter.
“The potential consequences of bushfires, as evidencedin the January 2003 fires, are too horrific to allow forest litter and felledtrees to accumulate in high risk areas,” he said.
“The January 2003 bushfires had an enormous impact – notjust in terms of personal injury, loss, and property destruction but also to thesurrounding environment and ecosystems.”
“This impact is still being felt and will continue toaffect the Canberra into the future.”
“If the clearing of forest litter, including nativevegetation, will slow an advancing bushfire and prevent loss of life, damage toproperty and disruption to residents’ lives then it should be done,” hesaid.