Emergency Services | September 19, 2022

Labor’s roadside vegetation “solution” completely misses the mark

The Andrews Labor Government continues to ignore warnings from regional and rural communities concerned about fire risks from unmanaged roadside vegetation.

The government today announced it would provide a miniscule amount of money to councils to help control roadside weeds and pests, claiming it will help reduce the spread of fires.

However Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said Labor had failed to recognise how its own mismanagement has contributed to increased roadside fire risks.

She said the government continued to actively subvert the management of roadside fire risks by not completing slashing and mowing programs on time, and through introducing unnecessary layers of bureaucracy that made it difficult for the CFA to complete fuel reduction burns.

“This is a government that thinks it is acceptable to wait until the height of summer to slash roadside vegetation on one of the busiest roads in the Lowan electorate, the Western Highway,” she said.

“This happened last year, when the Department of Transport completed slashing work along the highway in December, when the roadside vegetation had become so high in some areas that drivers could not see oncoming traffic.

“It’s also the same government that has actively hindered the CFA’s efforts to prepare annual roadside firebreaks.

“These play a pivotal role in fire prevention, yet despite some of the most vigorous grass growth in years, government bureaucracy is making it harder for this vital work to occur on state government-managed roads.

“Long-standing arrangements for CFA volunteers to prepare firebreaks – at no cost to the government – have been replaced with heavy restrictions, necessitating lengthy plans in addition to standard permits, and the presence of a ‘burn controller’ before any work is undertaken.

“In many cases, the local brigades undertaking the work have far more experience in break-burning than those who have completed a burn controller course.

“It’s ludicrous, and just shows that Labor and its city-based ministers do not listen to their communities and really have no clue when it comes to recognising where the major threats lie.

“While they hide behind flashy announcements, our communities wrestle with government incompetence that prevents volunteers from being able to adequately protect their communities.

“Only a Nationals and Liberals government will work with local communities to ensure fire risks are effectively managed.”

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