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Bushfire season underway and still no national strategy.



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Gavan O'Connor MP MEMBER FOR CORIO

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING, REGIONAL SERVICES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

31 October 2003

BUSHFIRE SEASON UNDERWAY AND STILL NO NATIONAL STRATEGY

Will we have to go through yet another bushfire season, will more houses be lost and more lives threatened before the Howard Government delivers on the promises it made in the wake of bushfire that threatened the outskirts of Sydney around Christmas 2001?

On 11 January 2002, Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson called for a Federal-State summit to coordinate services in the event of another fire disaster (Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January 2002). No summit was ever called.

On 2 April 2002, the then Regional Services Minister Wilson Tuckey announced in a press release that “…the Government was developing a national firefighting strategy in partnership with State and Territory governments.” No national firefighting strategy has been developed.

In the same press release the Howard Government promised a National Aerial Firefighting Strategy.

It has taken the State and Territory Labor Governments to deliver on a National Aerial Firefighting Strategy with minimal input from the Howard Government. John Howard has to date refused to commit to share the funding for the National Aerial Firefighting Strategy beyond the current financial year.

The Summit, the National Firefighting Strategy and the National Aerial Firefighting Strategy were all promised during the 2001/02 bushfire season. They were not delivered in time for the 2002/03 fire seasons and, so far, only the aerial strategy is in place for the 2003/04 fire season, and then only because the State and Territories made it happen.

How long can this government get away with saying that it is waiting for yet another report before it is willing to make a greater commitment to addressing the bushfire menace.? The need is clear and the 2003/04 fire season has already started.

Australians were promised a Summit, a National Firefighting Strategy and a National Aerial Firefighting Strategy two fire seasons ago. It is long past time to deliver on those promises.

Contact Gavan O’Connor on 0418 518 528 Bernie Eades on 0418 523 820