Australia A Bremer Bay farmer who won a medal for co-ordinating volunteers responses to the Keelty bushfire reports says he may as well hand it back because critical safety measures were not funded by the Government.
John Iffla, who was awarded the Emergency Services Medal in the 2014 Australia Day honours, has penned a stinging open letter to Colin Barnett, accusing him of abandoning volunteers.
The rebuke comes as the Government grapples with expensive recommendations from yet another special inquiry into a catastrophic bushfire, Januarys Yarloop disaster, which include a rural bushfire service and enhanced prescribed burning efforts.
Mr Iffla argues the State would already have the foundations of a rural bushfire service if it funded 20 to 30 bushfire mitigation officers working with rural communities to implement protection zones around towns and supporting volunteers.
That was the key recommendation of the volunteers working group led by Mr Iffla after the 2012 Margaret River Keelty report.
Mr Iffla, of the Emergency Services Volunteers Association, said the State funded only a successful pilot program not the full roll-out rendering his efforts a waste of time.
I fully understand the pressure on government finance, it is a matter of choices, he told Mr Barnett. In my opinion, only supporting the pilot program has been a very poor one on your behalf.
You already have the blueprint in place. Now is the time for you to be serious and start protecting bushfire prone communities by providing professional rural bushfire fighters to support volunteers.
This can and must be put in place immediately as the next fire season is only a few short months away.
Mr Iffla said it would have cost $7 million to hire the bushfire mitigation officers, and between $10 million and $15 million a year for the mitigation works including fire breaks and strategic planning, but requests by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services were not met.
A spokesman for Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis would not comment on Budget submissions but said the latest Budget contained $3 million allocated to the bushfire risk mitigation program.