Australia — THE Baillieu government is failing to properly deliver on at least 10 key recommendations made by the royal commission on the 2009 bushfires, a new opposition analysis shows.
The royal commission last year made 67 recommendations that it hoped would prevent Victorians ever again being left defenceless in the face of massive bushfires.
Premier Ted Baillieu and Bushfire Response Minister Peter Ryan – who repeatedly criticised former premier John Brumby for failing to act on every one of the recommendations – pledged while in opposition to implement them ”lock, stock and barrel”.
Advertisement: Story continues below Now, a state opposition ”scorecard” on the royal commission’s recommendations shows the government has so far:
– Failed to put in place a working emergency alert system.
– Not set up recommended ”safe places” in half of the state’s most bushfire-prone towns.
– Not completed a register of vulnerable residents in bushfire-prone towns.
– Proceeded with a far more limited buyback of land in bushfire zones than was promised.
Energy Minister Michael O’Brien also remains silent on the laying underground and the upgrading of power lines – although the government’s response is promised by the end of the year.
Other recommendations the opposition says have not been completed are: creating enough incident control centres, fixing black spot radio coverage, and making sure firefighting crews have adequate helicopters and planes to fight a large-scale fire. The opposition’s bushfire response spokeswoman, Jacinta Allan, also argues that not enough has been done on arson prevention and on modifying building codes to make new homes safer from bushfires.
Mr Baillieu and Mr Ryan had both made a ”solemn promise” to implement every recommendation made by the royal commission, Ms Allan said.
”Our state is not as ready as it should be for the bushfire season and Ted Baillieu and Peter Ryan are to blame,” she said.
Mr Ryan’s office rejected the criticisms, with spokeswoman Sonia Heath saying the royal commission’s recommendations were being acted on.
”Labor’s scaremongering cannot disguise the fact that they rejected key recommendations from the commission’s report when in office,” she said.
The government was committed to putting a new emergency alert system in place, Ms Heath said, while conceding there was no completion date. ”This is a complex project with no international precedent.”
Ms Heath also said there were already registers of vulnerable people kept by government agencies and local councils. The opposition says this is not good enough and not what the royal commission recommended.
And the government says that, of the ”neighbourhood safe places” being set up, 209 are now complete, including an additional 60 this year.
On radio black spots, the government says it is midway in resolving problems with dropouts, with a four-year program that was a result of royal commission recommendations to be finished by 2014.