Baillieu reneges on bushfire risk advice

Baillieu reneges on bushfire risk advice

08 June 2012

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Australia — THE state government has walked away from recommendations by the Black Saturday Royal Commission to force sellers to reveal the ability of a home to withstand bushfires.

The government has told Parliament it is not implementing the rules because they would burden vendors and could result in misleading information being given to home buyers.

But Labor says it is a broken promise, as Premier Ted Baillieu said in opposition that if elected his government would implement the royal commission’s recommendations ”lock, stock and barrel”.

Advertisement: Story continues below In its 2010 final report, the royal commission called for rules forcing vendors to disclose whether a property was in a bushfire-prone area when it is sold. It said sellers should also have to provide past and present information about the property’s ability to withstand bushfires.

The government this week passed an amendment to state property laws requiring disclosure of whether a home is in bushfire risk zones.

But it rejected the royal commission recommendations for bushfire attack assessments to be carried out and disclosed for homes up for sale. It also rejected a motion by opposition planning spokesman Brain Tee for the recommended bushfire attack disclosure laws to be put in place.

Coalition frontbencher Richard Dalla-Riva told Parliament ”the government’s view is in terms of ensuring that it reduces red tape and eliminates processes”. The recommendation ”may worsen housing affordability, and this is the appropriate course of action in relation to that recommendation”.

Mr Tee told The Age: ”This broken election promise risks lives, because home buyers will not have the information the royal commission said they needed. Whether it’s teachers or those living in bushfire areas, no one is safe from Mr Baillieu’s broken promises.”

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Bushfire Response, Peter Ryan, said the government was particularly concerned to protect the interests of prospective buyers.

“These changes increase the need for disclosure on vendors, while maintaining the onus on prospective purchasers to conduct their own thorough due diligence,” she said.

The recommended laws were opposed by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. Institute spokesman Robert Larocca said “the amendment strikes the appropriate balance”.

”The requirement to declare if the land is in a bushfire prone area increases the current level of disclosure while not increasing the costs of sale or stigmatising single properties,” he said.

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