Nats back indigenous burning to protect us all

Gippsland Nationals MPs are calling on the Andrews Labor Government to put more effort into trials of indigenous land management, particularly cool burning, ahead of the coming fire season.


The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien and Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath have encouraged the government to adopt policies that will better protect our public land and increase the window for fuel reduction burns.


Mr O’Brien and Ms Bath recently visited Toolangi, near Healesville, for an update on development of indigenous burning methods championed by expert Victor Steffensen, author of the book Fire Country – How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia.


“We saw through the devastating fires of last summer the need to better manage our landscape, including through fuel reduction burns,” Mr O’Brien said.


“When you listen to someone like Victor Steffensen and his colleagues you get a sense that our landscape has not been managed well and it’s not just about fuel reduction, it’s about utilising fire for better management of the whole ecosystem.


“I think it’s important that we actively manage our state forests and national parks and indigenous cool burns can play an important role in protecting our landscape and our communities from bushfire.”


Ms Bath said it simply made sense to learn from the First Peoples of this country.


“The Nationals and Liberals took a policy to the last election called ‘Return of the Fire Stick’ which would have expanded trials across the state utilising indigenous knowledge in the management of our land.


“I strongly urge the Labor Government to adopt such trials and utilise them around the state.


“We constantly get told by those opposed to fuel reduction burning that climate change means the window is closing – that is only the case if we stick to our European approach to burning.


“Our indigenous peoples were able to use fire almost throughout the entire year, depending on seasons and nature’s own signals and we have to get smarter by learning from the past,” said Ms Bath.


Mr O’Brien said the “lock up and leave it” approach to public land management had failed and was anathema to the practices of the original inhabitants of this land.


“Aboriginals actively managed the landscape with fire, a fact that has been expertly outlined by historians Bill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe, and we need to adopt and adapt some of the processes that the people who lived here for 60,000 years used before us.”


The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victorian Region, Melina Bath witnessing a traditional indigenous burn.



22 July 2020

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