Independent NSW MLC Justin Field has called on the NSW Government to get serious about implementing the recommendations of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry and ensure sufficient investment in tomorrow’s state budget to implement the 76 recommendations of the inquiry report.
To date, the Government has failed to provide any indication of how the 76 recommendations will be implemented despite supporting all when the report was released in August.
Last season’s fires are estimated to have cost the Australian economy at least $100 billion.
Yet the only investment by the NSW Government since last season’s devastating fires is $45 million to expand hazard reduction burns and upgrades to RFS equipment which was announced in May, months before the inquiry report was finalised.
Independent NSW MLC Justin Field said, “It’s been almost three months since the Government released the Independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry Report and six weeks since the 2020/21 bushfire season started yet the Government has still not formally responded to the report or announced a plan to implement these important recommendations.
“There is one sitting week left in this Parliamentary year, yet the only legislative response on the table is an environmentally destructive land clearing policy that is not even a recommendation from the report (see more information below).
“I want to see a significant investment in this year’s budget and a roadmap for implementation of the recommendations. To not learn the lessons from last season, after so many lost so much, is to fail those communities.
“My fear is that Covid-19 has distracted from the bushfire response and some in the Government are playing politics with this important issue instead of making the investments needed.
“Recommendation 1 of the inquiry was to ensure timely and transparent implementation of the recommendations and an accountability mechanism to track implementation. One this first and most basic measure the Government is failing and is leaving communities exposed.
“Given the moisture in the ground at the moment, fingers crossed we won’t have a catastrophic fire season this year on the South Coast, but that doesn’t take away from the need to fully
implement the recommendation which will take years of dedicated effort,” Mr Field said.
25 metre boundary clearing legislation
Bushfire legislation before the parliament this week will allow the clearing of tens of thousands of hectares of bushland and Koala habitat. The 25 metre boundary clearing place has been proposed by NSW Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliot despite it not being one of the recommendations of the bushfire inquiry report.
The Minister has refused to provide the advice from the Rural Fire Service he has claimed underpins the policy.
Analysis by WWF found that tens of thousands of hectares of bush, including core Koala habitat, could be at risk from the proposal with no clear bushfire risk benefit.