‘Five per cent’ topples at last

The State Government has finally accepted the recommendation of the Inspector General for Emergency Management to scrap the policy of burning five per cent of public land each year. The government will instead pursue a risk assessment policy.

The new policy is outlined in a 20 page colour document entitled Safer together: a new approach to reducing the risk of bushfire in Victoria. It can be found here.

The new approach will be delivered in three stages. DELWP expresses it as follows:

‘ · From 1 July 2016, the Government will apply a risk reduction target
for fuel management on public land.
‘ · In 2017-18, land and fire agencies will partner with communities to
manage fuel loads across public and private land in the highest risk
‘· Ultimately, we will apply a risk based approach to all bushfire
management strategies, working as one fire management sector, so we
can invest in the most effective ways to reduce risk.’

The new policy is not a panacea for bushfire control, though it’s preferable to its unlamented predecessor. It’s significant that the policy has been announced on the same day that DELWP revealed that the Lancefield escaped reduction burn disaster was caused by a failure in risk assessment and resourcing. In other words, good decisions still have to be made, and their implementation still has to be properly resourced.

What are the prospects for the new Risk Assessment approach? We’ll have a look at this question over the next week.

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