Leaked documents reveal that the Napthine Government cannot meet its burn-off target of 390,000 hectares as recommended by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

As reported today, Denis Napthine’s funding cuts to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries mean the Department is now “poorly equipped” and unable to deliver the burns program due to an “under-utilised plant fleet”. 

Staff cuts also mean that the Napthine Government is considering contracting out burn-offs with no departmental oversight. Important workplace practices will be removed.

Denis Napthine’s cuts to services in regional Victoria are putting people at risk of fire and undermining the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

Quotes attributable to Ms Neville: 

“Leaked documents prove that Denis Napthine’s cuts are putting regional Victorians at greater risk of fire.” 

“When the Napthine Government sacked 508 DEPI staff, it undermined the burn-off recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission.” 

“How can anyone trust this Government to prepare for future bushfire seasons?”

Key Facts 

  • In the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, it was recommended that the State Government burn-off 390,000 hectares of crown land each year. The Napthine Government supported every recommendation.
  • In 2012-13, some 275,000ha of crown land was burnt off. This included land that was affected by bushfire. In 2011-12 the figure was 197,000 and in 2010-11 it was 146,000ha – both years affected by wet weather.
  • A leaked DEPI report in April 2014 states that unless overall resources and staff numbers are increased, the Government alone will never be able to meet its 390,000ha burn-off target.
  • A media release from Minister Ryan Smith on Wednesday 30 April, highlighted the Government’s intention to fund more fire fighting equipment. This doesn’t address the biggest obstacle to burn-off targets – the lack of DEPI staff.