Gippsland bushfire risk must be mitigated

A recent report issued by Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFM) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) has detailed that forest fuel levels are at alarming levels across much of central, south and west Gippsland.

The 2022/2023-2024/2025 Joint Fuel Management Program (JFMP) report was issued as part a program which aims to manage fuel loads on public and private land and identifies an 84 per cent residual bushfire risk for the Latrobe district. The target across the Gippsland region is 71 per cent.

Residual risk is the risk, on average, that bushfires will impact on life and property, expressed as the percentage of the risk that remains after bushfire history and fuel reduction activities.  A higher figure represents a higher level of risk.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says the State Government must take action to ensure the safety of Gippslanders.

“The Latrobe district includes South Gippsland Shire, Latrobe City, Baw Baw Shire and small parts of Wellington Shire,” Mr O’Brien said.

“With Labor’s own policy dictating that residual risk should not be above 71 percent, it is concerning that the Latrobe District is not only currently sitting at 83 per cent but is predicted to remain at 79 per cent by 2025 even if all planned reduction activities take place.”

Mr O’Brien said he had little confidence that all planned fuel reduction burns would proceed under the Andrews Labor Government, highlighting that analysis of Labor’s ‘Safer Together’ program reveals only 43 per cent of Victoria’s planned fuel reduction burn targets have been met in the past six years.

“Indeed, my upper house colleague The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath has raised these concerns with the Minister for Environment in Parliament only to be brushed off and told the statewide residual risk target is being met.”

Mr O’Brien said it was concerning that Labor Government thinks meeting a statewide target while leaving the Latrobe District at high risk was “good enough”.

“Our local CFA volunteers and FFM firefighters are invaluable and place themselves in danger to save our lives and property year after year – the least the state government can do is ensure proper management to meet their own policy so that our communities aren’t left to face unnecessary risk.

“By failing to reduce forest fuel levels, the Andrews Labor Government is playing fast and loose with the safety of Gippslanders.”

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