Emergency Management Minister Rene Hidding has announced the state government will commit to a 33 per cent reduction in fire risk by 2022, ahead of the summer bushfire season.
Pointing to the success of previous hazard reduction burns at Grindelwald, close to the Tamar Valley Resort, as an example of the government’s commitment to fire risk reduction, Mr Hidding said the fuel reduction program had been “highly successful” over the past three and a half years.
“We’ve now committed to a total of $55 million spend over this term and the next four years to reduce the bushfire risk to land and Tasmanians,” he said.
Mr Hidding said future burn-offs would focus on suburban areas and townships with bushland surrounding them, including Summerhill near West Launceston, over the coming spring months.
“The more detailed, the more targeted fuel reduction in and around residential areas such as this – it’s expensive, it’s harder to do, but it has to be done,” he said.
Following a particularly dry winter, Mr Hidding said the East Coast was a focus for fire risk going into the summer bushfire season.
“We can’t make it rain in certain areas and the East Coast goes through a cycle of dryness, that’s going to be an area of concern for us this coming summer,” he said.
State Fire Management Council chair Ian Sauer said Tasmania’s fire risk reduction strategy was a national first as it targets both private and public sectors.
Mr Sauer said assessment and selection of burn-off areas was done by complex modelling, with 25 hazard reduction burns planned to start across the entire state, from Bell Bay to Hobart.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White said strong fire risk management was important to protect communities.
“This government needs to make sure they’re properly investing in a Tasmanian Fire Service, there’s been grave concerns about the incorporation of the SES into the Fire Service,” she said.
“The government needs to put its money where its mouth is and make sure the TFS is properly resourced so they can do their job.”