Questions over bushfire response

Questions over bushfire response

21 January 2013

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Australia — Criticism is mounting over the Tasmanian Government’s response to the state’s bushfire crisis.

The co-ordinator of a bushfire relief page on social networking site Facebook is questioning whether the Government prepared enough for an incident which stranded thousands of people on the Tasman Peninsula.

Mel Irons from the We Can Help Tasmania page says a similar situation happened during the Port Arthur massacre.

“We had a similar situation where people were cut off for quite some time so I actually think they should have been a little bit more prepared knowing that we can be in that situation,’ she said.

“I had quite a few, quite distressed emails from people saying locals who’ve lived there their whole lives saying, ‘you know the government’s learnt nothing from Port Arthur and this is happening all over again’.”

Gabbi Bresnehan who is co-ordinating the relief effort for farmers affected by the fires says volunteers are desperate for help to cover costs.

She says some volunteers have spent up to $5,000 of their own money on fuel.

“It is financial support now …all my volunteers, every time I ring you can hear it in their voice, they’re exhausted, they’ve done a totally amazing job, we do need support.”

The Premier, Lara Giddings, says people will be able to raise issues during an inquiry into the bushfires.

“If there are specific issues of concern, of course, we will have an inquiry and we would be very willing to look at anything we think we could do better and hear from people as to how we can improve,” she said.

“There will be that opportunity for that to occur.”

Ms Giddings says volunteers needing financial support should contact the Red Cross which has raised $4.5 million so far its bushfire appeal.

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