Victoria Deputy Premier Peter Ryan
Victoria Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan
Applications Open For Bushfire Buy-Back Scheme
Victor P Taffa
Landowners who believe they meet the criteria of the Victorian Coalition Government’s $50 Million voluntary bushfire buy-back scheme can officially submit applications from today.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan said applications for the Victorian Bushfire Buy-back Scheme would be open until 31 May and he encouraged interested landowners to apply.
“Landowners who have registered their interest in the scheme have already received an application form in the mail and information will be available on the Department of Justice website.” Mr. Ryan said.
“This scheme, which delivers on a key recommendation of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, has a clear objective: to reduce the risk of death and injury to Victorians in unacceptably high bushfire risk areas.”
“While in Government, Labor rejected this vital recommendation leaving landowners impacted by the 2009 bushfires in limbo.”
“While this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, the Coalition is pleased this scheme is available as a last-resort option to landowners whose properties are located in an area where the level of bushfire risk is unacceptably high.”
Mr. Ryan said participation in the scheme was voluntary and eligible landowners could decide for themselves whether to take up the Government’s offer.
“The scheme is focused on owner-occupiers whose principal place of residence was destroyed by the 2009 fires; who have not yet rebuilt on that site; and whose homes were less than 100 metres from forest.” Mr. Ryan said.
“If a property is eligible and the landowner and government agree on the sale, an offer to acquire the land will be made.”
Mr. Ryan said the Bushfire Land Acquisition Panel would assess applications against the eligibility criteria and make recommendations on the future use of acquired land to ensure remaining communities were not left at greater bushfire risk.
“The panel, chaired by former Deputy Premier Patrick McNamara, will look at each individual application and consider a range of circumstances in determining whether an offer to acquire should be made.” Mr. Ryan said.
“While the eligibility criteria is clear, the role of the panel is to ensure that common sense is applied in the management and delivery of this scheme.”
Mr. Ryan said land considered under the scheme would be valued at both 1 January 2009 (pre-bushfires) and current market prices with landowners offered the higher of the two valuations.
“This scheme is part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to implementing all 67 recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.” Mr. Ryan said.
“More than 200 people took part in information and consultation sessions about the scheme in 11 of the state’s most bushfire-affected communities last year.”
“Even if people are still undecided or not sure about meeting the criteria, I urge them to put in an application and not self-select themselves out of the process.”
“If the Bushfire Land Acquisition Panel determines that a property is not eligible for the scheme, the project team will make every effort to guide landowners in seeking further assistance and advice from other agencies.”
Submissions close on 31 May 2012.