Towns tire of Black Saturday talkfest

Towns tire of Black Saturday talkfest

08 August 2010

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Australia — Government officials will today continue a series of community consultation sessions throughout Victoria, garnering public opinion on what action it should take to guard the state from a repeat of Black Saturday.

But after frosty receptions at some meetings during the week and debate raging about its response to the commission’s 67 recommendations, the Government is expected to strike more criticism between now and the November 27 state poll.

Government representatives will today visit Kinglake, Marysville, Yarra Glen and Wandong before going to Woodend, Colac and Olinda tomorrow.

Marysville Golf and Bowls Club president Doug Walter said most residents were sick of consultation and would tell the Government they wanted action rather than talk.

“I think there is going to be some serious disquiet about the fact the rebuilding has been so slow,” Mr Walter said.

“The main issue will be that it’s all taken too long.

“People are starting to worry if they’re really going to keep their promise that they would rebuild the place brick by brick.” It is still unclear when the Government will announce its final response to the report, with a spokesman yesterday saying the only certainty is that it would be delivered this month.

Key issues raised at meetings in bushfire-affected communities included evacuations from areas threatened by bushfires, fuel reduction burning, putting power lines underground, acquiring properties in high bushfire-risk areas and the fire services levy. With pressure mounting to implement major changes before this summer’s bushfire season, Premier John Brumby last night said he was determined to listen to the people.

“There has been a mixed response on the FSL (fire services levy) and widespread agreement about the importance of improving regulation, maintenance and a stronger safety regime for the electricity network,” Mr Brumby said.

“But there has also been quite a bit of concern expressed about the potential major cost burden on households of any undergrounding scheme.

“Our Government agrees that there needs to be a significant increase in fuel reduction and the response we are receiving from the community is that they also want more fuel reduction.

“But there are some significant issues for industries like the wine industry we need to work through on how this would be implemented.”

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