Borsak Demands Bushfire Watchdog

A permanent bushfire control watchdog must be established to make recommendations publicly on the science and practical requirements of bushfire control and hazard reduction, says Leader of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Robert Borsak.

“I have a proposal that we need a permanent Independent Bushfire Control Commission with ICAC like powers of inquiry and evidence compulsion and the powers of a standing Royal Commission.

“It would go further and make recommendations publicly on the science and practical requirements of bushfire control and hazard reduction in National Parks, State Forests and across all land tenures, state wide,” said Mr Borsak.

Mr Borsak has also said a Legislative Council oversight Committee should then be established for the Commission to report to annually on the condition and progress of the bush management programs.

“The Independent Bushfire Control Commission’s primary purposes should be the conservation of human life, preservation of the environment and the saving of habitat and property.

“So the progress of the various bureaucratic departmental silos that administer public and private land in NSW, the ongoing role of local government in hazard reduction, and its general adequacy in dealing with the task will be a few of the areas that will need to be reported on.

“There also need to be major changes to vegetation management laws and the role that local and state governments play in this.

“The Commission should also provide an ongoing review of the adequacy of bushfire relief programs, both governmental and private.

“Are we delivering relief properly, quickly and fairly?” Mr Borsak said.

Mr Borsak believes essential to this will be an overview of the role of fire fighters, the RFS and their volunteer networks and functioning.

“Throwing more money at our courageous volunteers and the RFS after every fire season in NSW doesn’t work, it isn’t working, they have now got to the stage where they simply can’t cope.

“In a land of drought and heat, green politics designed to lock up large swathes of eucalyptus forests to appease the urban voters does not work. “Our management practices, or lack of them must also evolve and change.

“Another inquiry by the Premier will solve nothing if a new approach isn’t adopted.

“We need more than another dusty report that will go the way of others and be ignored on the shelves of the NSW parliamentary library.

“NSW needs a permanent watch-dog on the job, making sure that government can’t ignore good management practices.

“We need a change in management administration, practices and laws.

“If it is good enough for a coalition government to setup ICAC to fight fiscal corruption, then why shouldn’t they set up a permanent Independent Bushfire Control Commission, to save lives and property, and stop the corruption that is failed bushfire management.

“NSW has gone from one fire season disaster to another with a failure of accountability and governance.

“There needs to be an ongoing review and oversight of fire management that has been sorely lacking for nearly a hundred years, or at least since the Victorian Royal Commission of 1934.

“To not do this shows that the NSW government has not learnt a thing from the recent mega fires and isn’t fair dinkum at all about fire control.

“We need to evolve and change our management practices to keep up with changes to climate, drought and our growing population that love the bush.

“To love the bush in the Australian context is not to spare the fire stick but to use it often, intelligently and properly, to educate all that this is the normal in our Australian ecology and environment context.

“Rural and regional communities need, no demand nothing less from government,” said Mr Borsak.