The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) has today congratulated the government for both achieving the best prescribed burning results in 29 years and perhaps more importantly, giving the issue Ministerial attention.
AVBFB President Dave Gossage said today’s media statement released by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson was very positive, but it also highlights just how far behind WA has fallen with regard to managing risk of catastrophic bushfires.
“We are very pleased that one of the first media statements published by our new government recognises the importance of prescribed burning,” Mr Gossage said.
“The AVBFB has argued for a number of years that the current bureaucracy in control of more than a third of a billion dollars’ worth of tax-payers’ money has given too high a priority to the ‘response’ aspect of emergency management and not enough on the ‘prevention’ and ‘preparation’ phases.”
“Minister Dawson’s announcement that this is the best result in 29 years is very positive but it also confirms just how far behind we have fallen as a consequence of under-investment in bushfire preparedness.”
“It is critical that a higher portion of the $333 million Emergency Services Levy (ESL) collected annually by Local Governments gets back to help prevent bushfires in areas of particularly high fuel load.”
“Quite simply, we need better resourcing of those with specialist knowledge of bushfires – local Bush Fire Brigades and the Department of Parks and Wildlife – to ensure maximum prevention and appropriate local response.”
“Although we don’t want to detract from the Minister’s key message of ‘prevention is vital’, it is important to recognise that the lack of investment in preparedness is the result of not having a dedicated, independent rural fire service like most other states in the country.”
“While we have a city-centric, response-focussed para-military bureaucracy in charge of the funding, it is unlikely that the needs of local communities and conditions on the ground will ever be properly understood, let alone adequately funded,” Mr Gossage concluded.
NOTE: This media statement was produced in response to this one published today by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson