Australia–– THE Victorian Government is under pressure to abandon its program of burning unpopulated parts of the state.
The burn offs are part of a plan to help meet its bushfire prevention targets.
Bushfire Implementation Monitor Neil Comrie has questioned the race to reach the Royal Commission’s target of burning 5 per cent of public lands.
“It is considered that the most important objective of the planned burning program must be to address public safety risks in line with the commission’s intentions,” Mr Comrie said.
He urged the Government to “reconsider the planned burning rolling target of 5 per cent as the primary outcome as part of the planned burning reform program”.
His comments reinforce the criticism by some of the state’s leading ecologists, who have sounded the alarm about the risks to native wildlife from burning large swathes of remote park areas where no human life is at risk.
The commission recommendation requires the government to burn 390,000 hectares of public land each year.
It is aiming to burn 250,000 hectares this financial year.
The opposition spokesman for bushfire response, John Lenders, said by setting the target, the commission’s intention was to tackle the public safety risk by reducing fuel loads close to towns or other places where people live, “not out in the middle of nowhere”.
“Burning and re-burning the Mallee region is a low-budget way of achieving a 5 per cent target. It does not make densely populated communities in Gippsland, the Otways or the Dandenongs safer,” he said.
Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan said Mr Comrie’s report identified some areas “where more work is required”.