Australian State Criticized Over Bushfire Policies, ABC Says

Australian State Criticized Over Bushfire Policies, ABC Says

7 July 2009

published by

Australia —

A Royal Commission investigating Australia’s worst bushfire disaster criticized the Victoria state government for changing safety policies before the inquiry submits its findings, the Australian Broadcasting Corp.said.

The commission fears the state’s policy announcements will undermine the inquiry’s recommendations, which are due to be handed down Aug. 17, the broadcaster cited legal counsel Jack Rush as saying.

Victorian PremierJohn Brumby announced policy changes, including township protection plans, scheduled to cost A$50 million ($40 million) in astatement on July 3, while state Environment Minister Gavin Jennings will today announce a A$21 million plan to clear more scrub and forest in areas at risk from bushfires, the ABC reported.

The Black Saturday bushfires, which erupted Feb. 7, killed 173 people and destroyed about 2,000 homes in Australia’s southeastern state of Victoria. Today is the final day of the Royal Commission’s public hearings.

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