PM Tony Abbott calls for more prescribed burning in WA after the Northcliffe bushfire

PM Tony Abbott calls for more prescribed burning in WA after the Northcliffe bushfire

10 March 2015

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Australia — PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has called for more prescribed burning after visiting forest in Western Australia’s south that was recently devastated by bushfire.

The lightning-sparked blaze last month tore through more than 90,000 hectares of national park surrounding Northcliffe and destroyed two houses along with several sheds.

Premier Colin Barnett declared it a natural disaster, telling evacuees prescribed burning was an essential preventative measure.

After visiting the region during a visit to WA, the prime minister said he had met locals and discussed the effectiveness of the state and federal government’s response to the blaze, and what should be done to ensure bushfires were not so devastating.

“Frankly, we do have to have more effective forest management in the future than we have had in the recent past,” Mr Abbott told reporters.

“As a rural firefighter myself from New South Wales, I know that if you do not have regular hazard reduction burns in these fire-prone areas, particularly … on the urban interface, you can get catastrophic fire situations.

“This was a potentially catastrophic fire.”

The Northcliffe fire was the biggest in the South West region in decades and there were fears it could burn as far as Walpole on the coast with 50-year-old fuel loads.

Mr Abbott said a much worse outcome was averted thanks to a combination of luck and the efforts of firefighters.

Fewer controlled burns have been done in WA since 2011, when two prescribed burns at Margaret River and the Perth Hills destroyed more than 100 homes.

The issue is highly contentious, with some saying the loss of flora and fauna is not worth it, while others blame “greenies” for the reduced program in the state.

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