Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (19:05): (383) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Environment. What I am asking of the minister is that he come and visit with me the community of Loch Sport in the wake of the recent fire down there and ahead of the coming fire season. A number of issues have come out of the fire at Loch Sport, but most particularly it is about better fire protection for the town of Loch Sport, and that includes bigger fuel breaks and more fuel reduction burns. It is good to see the minister walk into the chamber; I am sure he will be very keen to come and join me in Loch Sport.
This community has one road in, one road out. It has got national park and banksia heathland on each end, and there has been concern for a very, very long time that there has not been enough done to protect the town from fire. I have been forwarded a letter, which I have here, to the then superintendent of the National Park Service in 1983 asking for pretty much exactly the same things that the community is asking for today. That is not to say nothing has happened since 1983, but certainly there remains a concern, and I think it is a genuine concern, about firebreaks and fuel reduction burns on each side. We have had, sadly, a massive fuel reduction burn on the western end of town because of this fire. It is virtually a moonscape in the area that has been burnt – it burnt that hot. But there was also a planned burden for 2022–23 at the eastern end of town, in the national park, that did not go ahead, and I know the community, local volunteer firefighters and others are very concerned about the threat to the town if a fire were to start at that eastern end.
There was also concern, and I would like the minister to address this issue in his response to me, about a bulldozer that was called in and was available to help create a firebreak around the town if needed. The community has been told that Forest Fire Management Victoria officials absolutely stopped anything being done with that bulldozer. I would like to get a true answer on what the situation was, because there have been lots of rumours about it – if it was not required, if it was unsafe or whatever the answer may have been. The community is very concerned about it.
There are a number of other issues that are not directly related to this minister’s portfolio, things like power pole clearances; power poles not being timber; siren repeaters in town so that everyone hears the siren; a review by IGEM, the inspector-general of emergency management; safe harbour in the town, which is an ongoing issue that we have been discussing; and notifications and failure of the VicEmergency app, which I will be following up with other ministers. But the minister does need to come down to see firsthand the issues in Loch Sport, and I encourage him to come as soon as possible.