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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11785

Mr HUNT (4:12 PM) —I rise to address the issue of bushfire risks on the Mornington Peninsula. Only last week we had a fire at Point Nepean which was an avoidable fire. It was the result of a lack of ministerial oversight. The minister knows the site well. He was there only a few short months ago. He pledged to protect Point Nepean and one of the first things to occur under the Victorian government is that they set it on fire on the third day of a heatwave with temperatures in the mid-30s in one of the windiest areas of the state. It is an area which also has a significant issue of unexploded ordnance. That issue of unexploded ordnance has been dealt with progressively over the last few years, but to have a ministerial policy which allows a bushfire to be lit on the third day of a heatwave in one of the highest wind areas in the state is pure ministerial negligence. I would hope and expect that the minister will stand up, take responsibility and not send out departmental officials. I will have more to say later this evening on ministerial responsibility in relation to bushfires and making sure our CFA is protected from, firstly, having to fight unnecessary battles and, secondly, having to defend actions which are the direct result of ministerial policy or omission.

As part of that, I want to deal with a second threat on the Mornington Peninsula and that is the issue of fire risk in Flinders Street, Rye, on four hectares of land owned by the Victorian department of education. This land is heavily overgrown and presents a significant fire risk. The site was originally earmarked as the new home of Rye Primary School. We have been contacted by constituents who live nearby, Brian and Helen Kelso, and they fear, in their words, that the site is ‘a disaster waiting to happen’.

I would say constructively to the Victorian government that this is a high-risk bushfire site which has not been maintained, which could be maintained and which needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Obviously, now that the land has dried out, it would not be appropriate to use a burning technique in a concentrated residential area. It would require selective clearing and clearing of groundwork, but it is absolutely clear that the local CFA wants the authority to clear the site. They cannot speak on the record, of course, but we do know that they want that done. We do know that they believe it is a fire risk. We do know that the residents believe it is a fire risk. This is a bomb waiting to go off in the heart of a residential area, a four-hectare site covered in dried out, heavy bush. I would urge the minister to take steps. You have been notified, so please listen. (Time expired)