Indigenous knowledge is key to plan burns

The Andrews Labor Government should be utilising more indigenous knowledge of land management to overcome dramatic failings in its planned burning program.

The Victorian Auditor-General last week issued a scathing audit of the state government’s planned burning program, which showed just 43 per cent of planned priority burns and 30 per cent of normal burns had been achieved last year.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said treatment of fuel loads to minimise bush fire risk has been a failure of the Government now for years.

“When the Government introduced its new model removing the requirement for five percent of the state’s forest to be burnt every year in line with the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission recommendation, it assured the community that there would be no change to the area of forest that is treated,” Mr O’Brien said.

“That has clearly proven not to be the case, and it’s regional Victorians who are put at risk as a result.

“In response to the Auditor-General’s findings about the Government’s poor performance it has argued that climate change means a longer bushfire season and therefore less opportunity to conduct planned burns.

“If that is the case, then the Government should be looking to utilise more traditional indigenous burning techniques that can be adapted to almost any climatic situation.”

Mr O’Brien said The Nationals have been pushing for an expansion of indigenous burning practices because they show promise in delivering better protection for communities and are more in tune with the natural systems and processes of the Australian landscape.

“We have seen what can be achieved in other parts of the country, particularly North Queensland, utilising indigenous knowledge and groups of indigenous practitioners are now trialling these methods in Victoria.

“Utilising cool indigenous burns can ensure the window that the government is so worried about can be expanded and our bush and communities better protected.

“The Andrews Labor Government continues to ignore the warnings and needs to change its ways and adapt some of these techniques to better look after our community and our environment.”

The Nationals and Liberals took an expansion of the indigenous burning program to the last state election.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien is calling for the inclusion of more indigenous burning practices in the states fuel reduction strategy.

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