Emergency Services | November 26, 2015

Strathdownie Peat Fire

Emma Kealy, The Nationals Member for Lowan has successfully lobbied the State Labor Government to support CFA volunteers and locals exposed to the toxic Strathdownie underground peat fire.

Emma Kealy MP raised an adjournment in Parliament yesterday and as a result the Minister for Emergency Services, Jane Garret will be visiting the Strathdownie with her community tomorrow.

“I have been contacted by many locals who have great concerns about the extremely limited Government support provided to local CFA crews, especially our valued volunteers working directly on the fire,” Ms Kealy said.

“On occasion smoke has blanketed communities, including Casterton, with locals becoming concerned about the health impacts of exposure to this toxic smoke.

“It is vital that the lives and livelihoods of our local people are not being put at risk due to inaction by the Labor Government.

“I’ve made a number of representations to the Minister over the past week and spoken in Parliament about this very concerning matter. I’m pleased that in response a Community Meeting was also held last night at the Strathdownie Hall to inform the community of the current situation and to give our local people an opportunity to raise their concerns about the management of the fire.

“In the instance of a strong northerly wind, which is typical of this time of year, it is highly likely that the peat fire could cause a burn through to Portland. This could be just as devastating as Black Saturday,” she said.

The peat fire which has been burning since 30 October is located in the far West of Victoria and 2km from dense scrub, forests and blue gum plantations. The peat fire won't be extinguished for some time and could continue for weeks, possibly months.

Emma Kealy MP has been circulating a petition across the Lowan Electorate, calling on the Andrews Labor Government to make cancer compensation accessible to both career and volunteer firefighters. This will give all firefighters non-discriminatory access to compensation for cancers contracted as a result of their work.

“It is clear that both volunteer and career firefighters are being exposed to the same smoke arising from the peat fire. Therefore, Labor must commit to treating all firefighters equally, and ensure that volunteer firefighters have the same level of access to presumptive cancer compensation with no limitation on the number of turnouts,” Ms Kealy said.

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