The following question without notice was asked by Member for Forrestfield Mr Stephen Price and answered by Emergency Services Minister Hon Fran Logan MLA in Parliament today.
MR S. PRICE to the Minister for Emergency Services:
I am glad we could sneak this one in.
I refer to the McGowan Labor government’s decision to introduce on-the-spot fines for breaching total fire bans. Can the minister advised the house why this tough new penalty was needed and outline what these hardline measures will mean for community safety?
The SPEAKER: Minister, and a good short answer.
Mr F. LOGAN replied:
Yes, I will keep this fairly short.
I thank the member for the question and, of course, his commitment to bush firefighting and to volunteers in his electorate. As the member indicated, the McGowan Labor government has very recently introduced total fire ban penalties for those people who continue to ignore total fire bans after they have been issued. The penalty will now be a $1 000 on the-spot fine for those people who breach total fire bans on the days on which they are announced. Those penalties can be issued by both police and local government rangers as on-the-spot fines.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions still have the power to issue penalties, but that will be by way of writing to those people who have breached the total fire bans. Of course, we have done this because last bushfire season 76 fires started on total fire ban days as a result of people ignoring the ban and undertaking activities such as burn-offs, campfires and using machinery that creates a spark such as angle grinding or welding. All of us in this house are well aware of devastating bushfires that have occurred as a result of people who have undertaken that activity in breach of a total fire ban.
The new on-the-spot penalties do not detract from the other penalties that continue to be in force; that is, the agencies I have just referred to—DFES, the DBCA and the WA police—can also take further action to prosecute repeat offenders or more serious offences with a fine of up to $25 000 and/or imprisonment of 12 months.
I urge all members to encourage their constituents to be well aware of the total fire ban penalties that are now in place.
If their constituents are unaware of what they can and cannot do once a total fire ban has been issued, members should urge them to contact www.emergency.wa.gov.au, which is the DFES emergency website. This is all about ensuring that we keep our community safe and that everyone plays a role in doing so.