Victoria Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith
AWU Claims On Firefighting Numbers Deliberately Misleading
Victor P Taffa
Claims from the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) that the number of full-time firefighters with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has halved in the last six years are wrong, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said.
“DEPI currently has 267 full-time field service officers, up from 222 in 2007. With the support of firefighters from Parks Victoria, this number increases to about 400.”
“Victorian firefighters have worked hard this year fighting bushfires that covered roughly 200,000 hectares of land and then immediately commencing the largest planned burning program in Victoria in the last 30 years to reduce the risk of bushfire.” Mr. Smith said.
“Each year the number of permanent employees is bolstered by the employment of around 600 project firefighters over the summer period to fight fires and carry out planned burns. This number remains unchanged.”
“On top of this there is a pool of about 2,000 people from the DEPI and partner organisations that are available to assist with the fire effort, these range from frontline firefighters to staff in Incident Control Centres.”
“This year the Victorian Coalition Government has exceeded the planned burning target for the first time with more than 253,000 hectares of planned burns carried out the most in three decades.” Mr. Smith said.
“This planned burning has gone a long way to reduce the risk of bushfires to human life, communities, essential infrastructure, industry, the economy and the environment.”
“The Coalition Government is committed to an increased fuel reduction program and has invested $338.7 Million in 2013 -14 for land and fire management. In addition, the Coalition Government has appointed 40 staff across the state to specifically identify high-risk areas and develop strategic plans on how to best manage and reduce those risks, using new bushfire and risk modelling tools.”
“DEPI will continue to work closely with its partner organisations Parks Victoria, the Fire Services Commissioner, VicForests, CFA, Melbourne Water, Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the State Emergency Services to reduce the impact of bushfires in Victoria.” Mr. Smith said.