SOUTH West MLC Nigel Hallett is calling on the State Government to respond quickly to the 17 recommendations outlined in Euan Ferguson’s report into the 2016 Waroona Bush Fire.
The report Reframing Rural Fire Management recommends sweeping reforms to improve bushfire prevention, including the creation of a separate rural fire service with responsibilities relating to the State’s bushfire prevention, preparedness and response activities.
Having strongly advocated for an increase in fuel reduction burning for a number of years, Mr Hallett, now representing Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party WA, welcomed Mr Ferguson’s recommendation that the Department of Parks and Wildlife focuses on maintaining hazard reduction and fire management as the highest priority.
The Private Members Motion called on the Legislative Council to recognise that a new arrangement for bushfire management was urgently required in WA, including the need to move away from emergency response and ‘all out suppression approach’, to one of fire prevention and damage mitigation.
The motion also stated that large bushfires resulted from failed land management and identified the need for the State Government to create a separate ‘country fire service’ to manage emergencies.
Mr Hallett said the motion brought to light the concerns of his constituents and the inability of a ‘city-based’ fire fighting department to effectively manage fires in rural and regional areas.
“The current system, characterised by ‘top-down’ autocratic management is simply not working,” he said.
“I believe the Ferguson Report will be a catalyst for change and as an interim measure I’m calling on Mr Barnett to re-direct DFES funds to local shires and in conjunction with local volunteers, assume control of fire fighting services within their municipalities.”
Premier Colin Barnett recently told the ABC the Government was quite deliberately going to wait three months to take in public comments and carefully look at the Ferguson Report.