The Bushfire Danger Period begins today in the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service, but Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP has questioned where the Morrison Government’s preparedness plan is?
Yesterday, the NSW Rural Fire Service declared the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla local government areas would begin their bushfire season on 1 September instead of 1 October due to local conditions, particularly the increased grass growth from recent rains.
With the release of the interim report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements yesterday, it is clear there were big flaws in how the last bushfire season was handled. Fiona Phillips said the government still had not learnt these lessons.
Disappointingly, it was revealed in August that the government had not spent a cent of its $200 million a year Emergency Response Fund. Last financial year, this $200 million was allowed to lapse, after the government said it did not see a need to use the funding, even on the back of one of the country’s worst bushfire seasons on record.
“Our community is still recovering from the last bushfire season, with many people still living in temporary accommodation and trying to access services to get back on their feet,” Fiona Phillips said.
“I have visited many community groups since the bushfires and everywhere I go, I hear the same story – we were not prepared then, and we are not prepared now,”
“The government needs to start preparing for this bushfire season now and so far, they just don’t seem to be taking this seriously,” she said.
Fiona Phillips has called on the government to invest in bushfire preparedness on the South Coast including by:
- upgrading our community evacuation centres in bushfire prone areas, including with fire mitigation measures, disability access, and stand-alone power and communications systems.
- committing to a Eurobodalla Integrated Emergency Management Centre in Moruya.
- further investing in upgrades to the Princes Highway.
- supporting telecommunications and power providers to bushfire-proof their poles and wires, and ensure there is back up power.
- addressing Mobile Black Spots along the South Coast.
“Scott Morrison failed to prepare for last bushfire season, and now he is failing to prepare for the coming season,” Fiona Phillips said.
“Our community cannot afford another horror bushfire season. The government must take action now,” she said.