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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15578


Mr McARTHUR (1:57 PM) —I wish to draw the attention of the House to the anger and upset of farmers and land-holders in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales over the recent fires. The state governments have not fulfilled their obligation to pay for fencing and problems caused by back-burning. In northern Victoria, there were 56 fires burning for about 50 days, and very little was done to put these fires out. The Department of Sustainability and Environment was in control of the fires. There was very little cooperation with the CFA to put out these fires and, generally, the farmers and local land-holders were very upset with the way in which the fires were fought. One day you were a criminal to go into the park and the next day you were a hero to go and fight the fire in the park on behalf of the state governments. I challenge the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier of Victoria to argue the case of why the forest should be locked up and how they will handle the next major fire, both in the Kosciuszko National Park and the national parks of north-east Victoria.