Daniel Andrews needs to explain to Victorians why he put communities at risk with massive cuts to hazard reduction burns last summer, says Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Brad Battin.
The recent Forest Fire Management annual report shows a 64 per cent cut in direct fuel management activities to reduce the risk of fire this summer.
In 2014/15, $50.2 million of a $113.9 million budget was spent on direct hazard reduction and last year just $18.2 million of a $121.7 million budget was spent.
The redirection of funds to planning and reporting has resulted in a failure to deliver outcomes. This is devastating for all Victorians and the safety of communities.
Actual figures from the Forest Fire Management Victoria Fuel Management Report 2018-19 shows a decline in investing in hazard reduction under Andrews.
- 2018/19 – $121.7m budget – just $18.2m on direct fuel management
- 2017/18 – $107.9m budget - $30.4m on direct fuel management
- 2016/17 - $107.9m budget – $40.0m on direct fuel management
- 2015/16 - $133.3m budget - $44.3m on direct fuel management
- 2014/15 - $113.9m budget - $50.2m on direct fuel management
This 64 per cent cut continues to put lives at risk and fails to deliver on the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission recommendation of 5 per cent hazard reduction burns on public land each year.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Brad Battin:
“Andrews’ cuts to hazard reduction burns puts Victoria at a higher risk of major fires this season.
“With just 15 per cent of the hazard reduction budget going to protecting communities and 85 per cent in reporting and planning, it is no wonder fuel loads across Victoria are at extremely dangerous levels.
“Andrews’ decision to refuse to release fuel load data maps for Victoria is hiding the fact fuel loads are so high due to his cuts in hazard reduction burning.
“The fire season is not finished; there is still a very real danger of more fires across Victoria, putting lives and communities at risk. Andrews has failed the targets for hazard reduction and it’s time to warn people of the increased danger so they can prepare for the remainder of this summer.
“Only a Michael O’Brien led Liberal Nationals Government will commit to implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission and implement the 5 per cent of public land burn recommendation, targeting more of these burns to the areas with the higher risk ratings.”
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