MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has written to the State Government seeking assurances the region is protected over the bushfire season and existing forest and farm management polices and procedures are adequate.
With the country halfway through the fire season, the devastating bushfires have burnt an estimated 16.6 million hectares of land, destroyed more than 5900 buildings and killed around one billion animals.
Mr Bell said the bushfires burning across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales highlighted the danger fires present to primary producers, the community and the environment.
He said bushfire protection and fuel reduction works were necessary to reduce the risk of widespread destruction, warning a fire had the potential to wipe out the region’s forest industry.
Mr Bell said it was imperative for the region to mitigate risks for the rest of the fire season and prepare for future fire seasons to protect farm and forest assets.
“People who remember Ash Wednesday will remember those fires were in February, so we are not out of the fire danger period,” Mr Bell said.
“We must do everything we can to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.
“Any developments in fire preparation or land management should be communicated and implemented as a matter of priority.”
Mr Bell also sought an update from the State Government about the reestablishment of the Regional Capability Community Fund, a Weatherill Government established grant program for fire and flood protection.
The $500,000 program offered grants from $500 to $5000 to buy new equipment to better respond to emergencies, but was axed by the current State Government in 2018.
The fund also reimbursed up to half the price of approved safety equipment purchases for rural landholders up to a maximum value of $2500.
Mobile firefighting units, bulk water storage tanks with CFS accessible fittings and high volume pumps were among some of the items purchased under the fund.
“The fund was important to assist farmers, who were often the first responders to a localised fire,” Mr Bell said.
“It helped subsidise the equipment needed to bring any ignition points under control quickly.”