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Howard Government: too little too late to help our firefighters.



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Gavan O'Connor MP MEMBER FOR CORIO

SHADOW MINISTER FOR TOURISM SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

28 January 2003

HOWARD GOVERNMENT: TOO LITTLE TOO LATE TO HELP OUR FIREFIGHTERS

The Howard Government’s announcement of its contributions to bring two helitankers to Victoria and NSW, and fixed wing aircraft for SA and WA demonstrates he is finally getting the message. Unfortunately it is too little, too late.

Australia’s top firefighters warned the Howard Government in August this is was going to be an unusually bad fire season - the weather and drought contributing to fire conditions never seen before. They demonstrated a clear need for more resources but the Howard Government did nothing.

Since then, the Government has ducked and weaved on this issue. Mr Tuckey dismissed the report he commissioned as a mere ‘wish list’ and has since denied promising a national bushfire strategy.

Now, finally, Howard is getting the message but it is still not enough.

The Prime Minister must deliver on his Government’s commitments. Labor has released a National Bushfire Strategy, which includes:

• National plans for preparedness, response and recovery; • Investing more in our research effort; and • Working with the states and territories to establish a national pool of aircraft.

What Australia needs is better operational coordination - something the Howard Government promised over a year ago but hasn’t delivered.

Labor is committed to establishing an Australian Interagency Fire Coordination Centre to coordinate pooled resources and national standard operating procedures.

Mr Howard must develop a National Bushfire Strategy as a matter of priority - and please - don’t leave it to Minister Tuckey.

Contact Gavan O’Connor on 0418 518 528