Australia — Almost $6 million has been hacked out of the Environment Department’s budget, and inflation will wipe out an increase of $116,000 to the Country Fire Service’s $63m allocation.
The allocation leaves the CFS without extra money to implement many findings of the Victorian bushfires commission.
Any South Australian government buyback of properties in high fire-danger areas or a widespread rollout of emergency shelters — as recommended by the royal commission — would need to go to cabinet for approval.
Further cuts to services would need to be made or other revenue sources found to free money to implement the 60 of 67 commission recommendations approved by the Rann government.
There is no capacity to increase fuel reduction burning to the minimum of 5 per cent of public land as recommended by the commission and approved in principle by South Australian authorities.
But with an eye on a bushfire season predicted to be the most dangerous on record after a wet winter boosted growth, the government has baulked at the most contentious savings measures recommended by its razor gang — cutting three helicopters from the CFS’s aerial fleet, saving about $4m over four years.