Otway Ranges Environment Network



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Fire scaremongering politics


Some parts of the community have begun to engage in the politics of scaremongering over the wildfire threat in the Otways. 

The Geelong Advertiser has run emotive comments from various groups calling for more and immediate fuel reduction burns. This is not helping the community prepare for the next wildfire season:

The Liberal Leader Ted Baillieu (Geelong Advertiser 7/8/09),

The Victorian Lands Alliance (Geelong Advertiser 20/8/09)

The Grovedale Liberals (Geelong Advertiser 26/8/09).


OREN has resonded with editorial comment (Geelong Advertiser 8/9/09) OR see HERE



The Victoria Liberal Party must also face the Royal Commission.

Editorial opinion from the Liberal Leader(Geelong Advertiser 7/9/09) titled "Labor must face Commission" is full of hypocrisy. The opinion article creates the perception that the Bushfire Royal Commission has already made recommendations about fuel reduction burning when it has yet to do so!

In particular this statement from Mr Baillieu is misleading:

And in addition, last year a Labor-dominated parliamentary committee delivered a report recommending a massive increase in controlled burning. Fuel reduction is critical to the management of bushfires. Yet the government in its response to the committee only supported the report's recommendations in principle. In all but two of the past 10 years, even the government's own low controlled burning target has not been met. Why?


OREN response:

The Victoria Liberal Party must also face the Royal Commission.

Wildfire Royal Commission yet to examine levels of fuel reduction burning needed for the Otways.

Tuesday 8th September 2009

The Liberal leader was critical of the Brumby Governments regarding the implementation of the Bushfire Royal Commission interim report recommendations (See Geelong Advertiser 7/9/09).

The Hon Ted Baillieu opinion then totally digressed by accusing the Victorian Government for failing to implement the recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee calling for a massive increase in fuel reduction burning.

The Inquiry into the impact of public land management practices on bushfire in Victoria was released last year. What hypocrisy? Recommendations made by politicians on a Parliamentary Committee can be politically motivated. They are not objective. Politicians are not independent experts.

All the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee regarding public land fire management strategies are now to be independently re-examined by the fire Royal Commission. (See section 13.11 dot point 6 of Royal Commission interim report)

This hypocrisy is part of a broader campaign to use the publics fear of wildfire to engage in scaremongering politics. In the Otways there is no evidence that a massive increase in fuel reduction burning will make the community any safer from an inferno like that experienced on Black Saturday.

For answers the community needs to wait until next year when the Royal Commissions final report is released in July.

Those recently calling for immediate and massive increase in fuel reduction burning in the Otways have been beaten by nature at the moment. There has been so much rain this winter nothing is going to burn for a little while yet. Its not unusual for the Otways to stay too wet all summer for fuel reduction burning.

Still a 5000 ha are was fuel reduced last Autumn behind Lorne. However this will not to stop a major inferno like Black Saturday.

Finally the opposition leader wants to know why fuel reduction burning targets have been low for the past 10 years. One reason has been the diversion of government resources to conduct logging coupe regrowth burns. After clearfell logging it is routine to burn off the areas in autumn. The 2003 Esplin inquiry examined this issue in great detail. For the Otways a ban on clearfell logging native forests came into force in 2008 and has removed the competition. Government resources can focus on fuel reduction burning during the limited time it is safe to do so.



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