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Belated Bushfire Report welcomed.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/022 MONDAY 24 JANUARY 2005 SENATOR LYN ALLISON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER BELATED BUSHFIRE REPORT WELCOMED The Australian Democrats have welcomed the release of a major State-Federal Government report on bushfire management and urged the Prime Minister to ensure key recommendations are implemented before the next summer fire season. The Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Lyn Allison welcomed recommendations for building standards for bushfire prone areas, efforts to ensure communities are better educated about risks, infrastructure preparation and insurance coverage and training for firefighters. "Given the extraordinary contributions volunteers make in fighting fires in Australia, reimbursing volunteers and volunteer rural fire agencies for out-of-pocket expenses is the least we can do," said Senator Allison. “We are however disappointed at the lack of any recommendation to require that cigarettes are self-extinguishing. Seven per cent of bush fires are conservatively estimated to be caused by discarded cigarettes, according to the Victorian Department of Sustainability & Environment. "Considering the delay involved in releasing this report, the Democrats urge COAG to continue to cooperate and act with urgency to reduce bushfires and teach people how to survive them. “The continuing loss of life and property makes preventing and learning to deal with bushfires better, a challenge for all Australians,” Senator Allison concluded. The Democrats also recommend: - Safer planning and landscape strategies for fire-prone areas; - Greater focus on improving strategic firebreaks and buffers around vulnerable communities and assets, ensuring continued maintenance; - Mandating self extinguishing cigarettes (which have reduced burn-accelerating additives, usually sodium and potassium citrates) and banning smoking while driving. The Government report can be seen at Media Contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649