Following the first Question Time for 2015, Member or Evelyn Christine Fyffe has hit out at Andrews Government Environment, Climate Change and Water Minister Lisa Neville for refusing to publicly commit Labor to a planned burning target.
“This summer we have already experienced some very hot and dry conditions. We know this is when community anxiety is usually at its highest,” said Mrs Fyffe.
However, when asked by Deputy Leader of the Opposition Peter Walsh, if the Andrews Government has a planned burning target, Ms Neville’s feeble response was “normally those figures are articulated through budget papers.” (Hansard, 10 February 2015).
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended the state government adopt a 5 per cent fuel reduction burn target that was accepted by the Coalition which delivered Victoria’s largest ever planned burning program.
Mrs Fyffe said that Ms Neville clearly does not understand the level of concern communities still have about fire danger.
“We are fresh off the six year commemoration of Black Saturday which saw 173 Victorians lose their life and 2,000 homes destroyed. The fear is very real for many still.
Ms Fyffe said planned burns are a necessary part of the Victorian landscape.
“Planned burns reduce fuel loads, protect park and forest facilities, preserve residential properties and conserve natural systems and processes. They should not be an optional extra for an environment like ours.
“It is clear, that after four years out of government, Labor has learned nothing from their mistakes which contributed to their sub-standard response to Black Saturday back in 2009.
“Ms Neville is either incompetent or dishonest. Ms Neville and Labor must state what their planned burn target will be and stop playing political games with such a serious issue,” said Mrs Fyffe.