Australia — A comprehensive report detailing the Victorian Coalition Government’s progress and plans to implement all 67 Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations was today tabled in State Parliament.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan said the Bushfires Implementation Plan outlined the extensive measures being taken by the Coalition Government to improve Victoria’s response to future bushfires.
“Victoria’s tragic 2009 bushfires represented one of Australia’s worst natural disasters and this implementation plan marks an important step on the road to improved fire preparation in this state,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Coalition Government is investing more than $900 million to implement all of the Bushfires Royal Commission’s recommendations and this plan informs Victorians about how and when they will be implemented.”
Mr Ryan said the implementation plan would be a key point of reference for Mr Neil Comrie AO APM in his role as the Independent Bushfire Implementation Monitor.
“The Coalition Government is delivering on its election commitment to implement all 67 Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations, including making the Bushfire Implementation Monitor truly independent,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Bushfires Implementation Plan will ensure Mr Comrie can clearly understand the Coalition Government’s intentions and allow him to assess the progress of implementation efforts.
“Mr Comrie will then report to the Victorian Parliament on the implementation progress by
31 July 2011 and again by 31 July 2012.”
Mr Ryan said bushfires would inevitably occur again in Victoria in future years but the severity of fires and the threat to fire-prone communities could be minimised.
Key measures the Coalition Government is taking to minimise bushfires include:
* reducing fuel load on public land while monitoring and carefully managing the ecological consequences of such action; * maintaining strategic fire breaks to protect communities and their critical assets, such as water; * limiting known fire-starting activities on days with a dangerous fire risk; and * encouraging people living in unacceptably high bushfire risk areas to relocate to safer environments.
The Coalition Government has also invested heavily in:
* fire intelligence gathering, analysis and predictive capabilities; * providing funding to begin important work to upgrade electricity assets; * staffing, training, volunteer support, fire-fighter safety, procedures, technology, equipment and facilities in incident and emergency management and on the fire ground; * arrangements for pre-deploying incident management teams on dangerous fire risk days; * community information about forecast dangerous fire conditions; and * warning systems, most notably the One Source-One Message tool that enables incident controllers to broadcast warnings to multiple sources and the Emergency Alert telephone message system.
Mr Ryan said the Bushfires Royal Commission had extensively considered issues such as electricity infrastructure and community warning systems in great detail before it handed down its 67 recommendations.
“The Royal Commission has also highlighted the fact that all Victorians have a role to play in bushfire safety,” Mr Ryan said.
“With the implementation of the 67 recommendations and the co-operation of all government levels, emergency services agencies and the broader community, we can prepare Victoria to deal with the threat of fire better than ever.
“This implementation plan will help ensure Victoria will never let the lessons of the devastating 2009 bushfires be forgotten,” Mr Ryan said.