The following “Dorothy Dix” Question Without Notice was asked by the Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel and answered today by Emergency Services Minister Hon Fran Logan MLA:
Mr K. MICHEL to the Minister for Emergency Services:
I refer to the McGowan Labor government’s record investment in bushfire mitigation.
Can the minister advise the house how this significant investment is supporting local governments and regional communities in managing bushfire risks?
Mr Fran LOGAN replied:
I thank the member for Pilbara for the question, and acknowledge his personal support for the emergency service volunteers in the Pilbara, particularly in Port Hedland and Karratha. Members will remember that, just after the budget was announced, I informed the house and the general public about the historic investment we have made in keeping our communities safe in rural and regional Western Australia through the creation of the rural fire division, and a massive investment in bushfire mitigation, to address some of the highest-risk bushfire points in rural and regional Western Australia. Our government is investing $50 million in bushfire mitigation. That is a historic amount of money—more than any other state government in the whole of Australia. It is aimed at working in collaboration with local governments to identify parts of their own areas that contain the highest risks to either infrastructure, property or lives in their region.
That is what it is aimed at. It is about the state government working in collaboration with local governments. That is what the rural fire division is about. As I have explained to this house before, the rural fire division has come about as a result of our government’s response to the Ferguson report and other reports. We made it very clear that we are not going to go down the path taken by New South Wales and Queensland of creating a standalone rural fire service, because in Western Australia we already have a huge number of fantastic bushfire and emergency service volunteers across the whole state, who do that work, and we do not want to replicate that. Instead, we have created the rural fire division, which is an arm of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, aimed at getting greater collaboration between state government, local government and the volunteers to identify the highest risk bushfire threats to our communities, and then to address those.
On Friday of last week I was at the old Balingup racecourse with my colleague, the Minister for Sport and Recreation, the member for Collie–Preston. It was very interesting being stuck in the forest with the member for Collie–Preston, but it was a great day, because we had not only state government representatives, but also local government representatives from the Shires of Nannup and Donnybrook–Balingup. A range of volunteers from a number of groups were also present, from Argyle and Irishtown and around Balingup itself. The Friends of the Forest were present as well. The Friends of the Forest are very committed to regenerating the area around the old Balingup racecourse. They were quite concerned about the local government coming in and undertaking bushfire mitigation in what they saw as their regeneration area. However, it has been done in such a way that we have the full support of the environmentalists in the area. That is a massive change. Using bushfire mitigation, or mechanical mitigation, we now have support from very deep green environmentalist groups to undertake that work and keep our communities safe. That is a big transformation.
At that event, I indicated that $3.3 million worth of funding had been made available to local governments in the first of the 2018–19 rounds. I will very briefly tell the house where this money is being spent, although not how much.
It will be spent in the Shire of Augusta–Margaret River; the Shire of Beverley; the Shire of Boyup Brook; the Shire of Bridgetown–Greenbushes; the Shire of Carnamah; the Shire of Chittering; the Shire of Donnybrook–Balingup; the Shire of Irwin; the Shire of Jerramungup; the City of Karratha; the Shire of Nannup; the Shire of Northampton; the Shire of Ravensthorpe; the Shire of Wagin; the Shire of West Arthur; the Shire of Woodanilling; and the Shire of York.
Those shires will be in receipt of $3.3 million to assist them to undertake their mitigation in areas for which they are responsible. As I indicated, of the $35 million that we are making available for the state government to do its work on its land, $1.2 million will be released for bushfire mitigation in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, goldfields, Esperance, south west, Peel, great southern, wheatbelt and the midwest.
We will be tackling these areas with bushfire mitigation over the next few months and into the new year. The Minister for Local Government would be appreciative of this. As I indicated, this is about collaboration. I will quote the shire president of Donnybrook–Balingup, Brian Piesse. This is from the Bunbury Herald.
The president of Donnybrook–Balingup shire, Brian Piesse, said —
“This is what a state government–local government partnership is all about,”…
That is what it is all about. That sums it all up.