By Clare Armstrong – 10th December 2019

Claims that “green tape’’ worsened an already “difficult and dangerous’’ fire season will be investigated at a special ­inquiry that will probe the state’s bushfire hazard-­reduction strategies, including land clearing and burn-offs.

The federal government has bowed to pressure to investigate if the ongoing deadly fire season was fuelled by a failure to properly manage vegetation in national parks, forests and on private properties.

Firefighters backburn to secure residential areas from encroaching bushfires at the Mangrove Mountain area on Sunday – AFP
NSW Rural Fire fighters establish a backburn ton contain a fire in Mangrove Mountain on Sunday – Picture: AAP – Jeremy Piper

It comes as firefighters on Monday raced to get on top of a number of major blazes around the state before temperatures are expected to soar again on Tuesday.

Parts of NSW are forecast to reach the low 40s on Tuesday, ­including 43C in Singleton and Walgett, and 42C in Penrith, Richmond, Cessnock, Muswellbrook and Forbes, with westerly winds and a potential southern change in the ­afternoon.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned on Tuesday would be “very dangerous” due to the very hot weather and windy conditions.

That combination, as we know, has been lethal in the past few months,” she said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said hot and windy conditions are expected on Tuesday – Picture: AAP

The Bangala Creek fire near the Queensland border at Tenterfield was the only blaze of the 87 burning across NSW at a “Watch and Act” level ­on Monday afternoon.

The newly launched bushfire inquiry will consider if governments at all levels have enough power to require ­landholders to reduce fire risks on their properties, and will investigate the science behind bushfire management activities and the impact of severe blazes.

The State inquiry will focus on hazard reduction – Picture: AAP – Jeremy Piper

Committee chair Liberal National MP Ted O’Brien said the inquiry was an ­“opportunity to better understand” how laws, mitigation strategies and the engagement of emergency services could impact fires.

“The committee understands people will have very passionate views about this, particularly in light of the current bushfire season,” he said.

“We look forward to hearing all views and assessing all the evidence put before us.”

Firefighters were scrambling to bring fires under control on Monday ahead of expected soaring temperatures
over the coming days – Picture: AAP – Jeremy Piper

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro was among a number of National Party politicians who blamed “green-left ideology” for the unprecedented fires in recent weeks.

“There are things to learn out of every bushfire emergency and what’s clear is that more hazard-reduction work needs to be done during times where it is safe to do so,” he said last month.

NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said forecast conditions were not as bad as those experienced earlier this season, but the sheer size and number of fires already burning meant the outlook was still dire.

“It’s certainly going to be another difficult day, particularly given the scale and complexity of these fires and their proximity to so much more built-up and populated areas,” he said.

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5 thoughts on “NSW Government bushfire inquiry to focus on failures in hazard reduction

  • December 15, 2019 at 6:49 pm
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    This is total bullshit. The Telegraph and the premier want to blame the greens for lack of burning off? The greens have never been in power so how have they stopped prescribed burning. More burning is not the answer. Fires have been burning through areas that were burnt last year. Mt Solitary is a prime example. More burning makes the country more fire prone because only the species that can tolerate fire can survive. There is no silver bullet that will fix this. One good start would be to start treating the country the way the Aborigines did. That is, with respect and kindness. Appreciating what the land gives us instead of thinking we are masters of it. More fire stick burning the way the Aborigines did it and less hot, prescribed burning.

  • December 28, 2019 at 11:26 pm
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    I live near Lithgow and have witnessed the actions of the RFS in this fire, the 2013 fire and the 2006 fire. They light numerous fires, I’ve witnessed it on many many occasions. I have come to view them as scary and am relieved to see them leave the area. No doubt they consider the only viable way to fight fire is with fire however the scale of their fire lighting and frequency of their fire lighting is astounding and is hardly reassuring to us whose houses are under threat. The fire they started at the Glowworm Tunnel near Newnes about three weeks ago was massive, there are pictures of it taken from Wallerawang on the Lithgow2790.com Facebook Group, its worth finding these pictures, there is no question of these being controlled back burn, they are totally uncontrolled, these huge fires are lit by the RFS and then left to take their course and are impossible to control. The fire they lit on Bell’s Line of Road two weeks ago is probably the biggest fire ever seen in the Blue Mountains and this fire is directly responsible for the destruction of nearly 50 properties. Its amazing that no lives were claimed. Something is very wrong in the RFS and they seem to view themselves as being above criticism, I don’t think they are honest with the public and cling to a hero narrative. I appreciate they are volunteers and work very hard for free , yet they never seem to question the consequences of all the fires they light. They need to be stopped. You don’t deserve accolades for saving houses when you started the fire. Something is very wrong here, they should have records of all the fires they started as they appear to be acting on orders from “Fire Command”, you will be astounded by the number and destruction caused by the fires that they start.

  • January 2, 2020 at 8:23 am
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    The failures in fuel reduction burns can be solely attributed to her government defunding fire services. Ridiculous attempts to blame The Greens should not be getting peddled by this institution.

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