Call for insurance costs to be lower

The remains of one of 55 homes destroyed by fire earlier this year in Stoneville.
The remains of one of 55 homes destroyed by fire earlier this year in Stoneville.

January’s bushfire in the Hills’ villages destroyed 55 homes, raising questions about homeowners’ abilities to defend their properties from oncoming blazes.

The State Government acted by announcing special construction requirements for new homes in bushfire-prone areas, which would include the Shire of Mundaring.

It was also announced that the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner would map all bushfire prone areas that are to be automatically incorporated into town planning schemes to trigger the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards AS3959.

The WA Local Government Association said the announcement to introduce the new requirements from May next year was the responsible approach.

Stoneville and Parkerville Progress Association chairman Greg Jones said the requirements had been in place across Australia for some time and WA was now catching up.

‘It will make houses more resilient and make them a safer place to be,’ Mr Jones said.

‘But we want those people who do build fire-resilient houses to be able to pay a lower insurance premium by $10,000-$20,000.’

‘As far as I’m aware, no insurance companies are offering to do that yet.’

Mr Jones said the association would be writing to local politicians and the Insurance Council Australia, urging it to consider the insurance premium offset.

‘I think there is still a strong desire to build in the hills ” this won’t deter people.’

WALGA President Troy Pickard said the move by State Government was in line with bushfire inquiry chief Mick Keelty’s recommendation that the State Government take responsibility for declaring bushfire prone areas.

‘It is the responsible approach to helping ensure that the risk is minimised as much as possible for both the safety of the community and the emergency services personnel in having to contain outbreaks,’ Mr Pickard said.

‘The additional requirements may increase the cost of construction of new homes in these areas, but the price of not taking these measures will eventually be counted in lives lost.’