We had a parliamentary enquiry in 2008. And then a Royal Commission. And then an investigation into the effects of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Now the Legislative Council has instituted an enquiry into fire preparedness. Perhaps all these enquiries are symptoms of the fact that the community has still not resolved the question: how do people and nature co exist? So, once again, the challenge for conservationists is to show how safety can be achieved without wholesale destruction of public land.
The terms of reference for the latest enquiry are as follows:
- 1) the Environment and Planning Standing Committee inquire into and report on the preparation and planning for fire seasons by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and its agencies, including Parks Victoria and, in particular —
- a) the amount and nature of preventative burning undertaken to date;
- b) the measures in place to ensure preventative burning is undertaken safely;
- c) the effectiveness of preventative burns in achieving community safety;
- d) the impact of preventative burns on threatened species;
- e) the impact of preventative burns on Ecological Vegetation Classes;
- f) the impact of preventative burns on the climate;
- g) the targeting of preventative measures state‐wide;
- h) the resources available to ensure that adequate preparation is undertaken;
- i) the co‐ordination of such planning and preparation with other departments and agencies across government;
- j) the nature and level of emergency response;
- k) the relevant administrative and organisational structures in place within the Department and with other relevant government departments and agencies;and
- l) the impact of land tenure on the ability to provide fire prevention activities and the differences between types of land tenure such as National Park, State Forest, Regional Park and others;
- 2) the Committee is to consider annual reports tabled by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and its agencies, including Parks Victoria, and any other relevant matter as determined by the Committee.
The committee will deliver its report in December.