The Victorian State Government is still refusing to release bushfire fuel load maps for Victoria, despite an order from State Parliament to make the documents public. The maps, published in August, show the build-up of fuel loads across East Gippsland and North East Victoria. Source: Timberbiz
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has reportedly directed the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to not co-operate with any request for the maps met with responses ranging from the maps would “not be in the public interest” to “we act on the advice of fire experts who’ve advised the map shouldn’t be released at this time”.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said following the Legislative Council’s 11 December deadline, she called upon Daniel Andrews to immediately release the maps on 19 December.
“Both Parliament’s deadline and my requests have been ignored,” she said.
“It has been over eight weeks since Parliament ordered the Premier to release the bushfire fuel load maps.
“Daniel Andrews refusal continues despite devastating bushfires impacting East Gippsland this summer bushfire and the maps being routinely released in the past.
“This is not leadership; this is censorship and the public have the right to know.”
During January Gippsland tragically experienced the worse bushfire emergency since Black Saturday in 2009.
State Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said it was “inexplicable that Daniel Andrews is still refusing to release Victoria’s bushfire fuel load maps after the devastation so many communities have already had to endure”.
“You have to ask the question – who benefits from keeping these fuel load maps secret?” he said.
Ms Bath said it was imperative Daniel Andrews outlined exactly what he knew.
“The time for playing political games is gone,” Ms Bath said. “Daniel Andrews must be transparent.
“This fire season has been devastating and all Gippslanders deserve to know exactly what was and was not known by the Andrews Government.
Ms Bath said Gippslanders also needed to know what bushfire risk they continued to face.
“Withholding vital information from the public is negligent and following the East Gippsland bushfire emergency it is alarming.
“We have months of dangerous bushfire conditions still to come>’
The Leader of the Nationals, Peter Walsh, said bushfire fuel maps had been routinely released in the past.
“It is simply not good enough for Daniel Andrews to refuse to release them again this fire season,” he said.
“With months still to go in the current fire season communities across the state must have access to all the information they need to help prepare for the threat of bushfire.”
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has received the first $10 million from its insurance claim over the summer bushfires that affected 95 per cent of its tree crop.
The company is in the process of “determining its options for rebuilding the business” as it comes to terms with the fallout from the disaster.