Mixed response to bushfire inquiries

By Jamie Salter

The Victorian Government will provide $2.55 million for an independent investigation into the 2019-20 fire season.

Inspector-General for Emergency Management Tony Pearce will lead the inquiry into Victoria’s preparedness and response to the recent fires.

The decision to analyse the timeliness and effectiveness of recovery responses was announced last week, and Victorian Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the review would prepare for the next fire season.

“As we move into supporting communities through the recovery stage, the inspector-general will help ensure that we have all the appropriate measures in place to protect lives and property,” Ms Neville said.

The United Firefighters Union of Australia said a royal commission should not have been called, as it will only duplicate previous inquiries.

UFUA national secretary Peter Marshall said reviews were expensive and time-consuming.

“Considerable resources are required to undertake a new, federal royal commission, including significant monetary expenditure, potentially hundreds of days of hearings, and cross-examination of witnesses,” Mr Marshall said.

“Which is often a gruelling, emotional experience as the witness is forced to relive the trauma of the fire.”

Speak Up campaign deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said the royal commission should extend to all natural resource management.

“Due to the fires, the shortage of dairy products and other staple foods has been highlighted, but this is not being caused only by fire damage in recent weeks,” Mr Marshall said.

“Failure to effectively manage our water resources has had a massive impact on many dairy farms, including my family’s farm.”