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Wildfire response by task force absurd and unscientific

by Robert J Lee

A levy imposed on the fossil fuel industry to pay for fighting bushfires allegedly caused by climate change is absurd, unscientific and will not stop wildfires.

It comes as part of 165 recommendations by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA), a group of more than 150 experts and affected community members, in a bid to improve bushfire readiness, response and recovery.

How 150 so-called experts could get it so wrong is typical when academia in concert with government closes ranks to assure a pre-determined outcome. Climate change has been discredited by thousands of scientists around the world.

The real cause of the Queensland, NSW and Victorian wildfires was four decades of disastrous Labor Party environmental policies. Grazing properties, forestry reserves, national parks and state land were locked up then the socialist governments threw away the keys.

Former NSW Fire Chief Greg Mullins, member of the ELCA fire taskforce blames mythical climate change for the wildfire conflagration that destroyed large areas of NSW and Victoria

After the Aboriginal firestick disappeared 100 years ago the problem grew worse across the nation but in particular NSW and Victoria where successive state governments acquired hundreds of grazing and farming properties and turned them into national parks or environmental reserves.

Wet years would see vegetation grow uncontrollably in these parks and reserves creating a huge amount of fuel for fires. Firefighters in Victoria were reported as saying they saw forest detritus one to two metres thick over large areas they were trying to protect.

Naturally with such fuel loads nothing could save these forests. A complete lack of hazard reduction burning over many years by authorities left vast areas potential fire bombs of nuclear proportion.

The other major fire prevention deficiency was a lack of cleared firebreaks. Hours of television footage covering the wildfires revealed almost no firebreaks and no machinery to make any.

In Queensland, NSW and Victoria, all suffering from decades of Labor rule, it was most evident that rural firefighters had only public roads or power line tracks for access to reserves and private property to conduct back burning.

It was a hopeless, dangerous situation that volunteer firefighters faced and there were no bulldozers or graders to construct breaks even when the RFS had weeks of opportunity to build breaks before fires arrived. Labor policies prevent disturbing any trees or vegetation growing in reserves and on private property from being damaged or removed by constructing a firebreak.

Fire experts and seasoned firefighters know that in temperate climates during the dry season hot bush fires stoked by half a metre of detritus in eucalypt forests create their own fire environment developing strong winds and wild atmospheric conditions to create crown fires.

These fires are impossible to stop, but they are relatively easy to prevent. Climate change is pure nonsense and Labor and Liberal governments must shoulder most of the blame.

Then there are the city people who want a life in the bush but have no idea of rural conditions especially fire prevention. They set up bush camps in the hills to live their dream.. No water, no power, no machinery, no fire breaks and no sense.

Many of the burnt-out homes, ranging from subsistence dwellers to large well-constructed houses had eucalyptus trees growing out of the lounge room, so to speak. How did they think they could prevent their homes from burning down?

The television footage of burnt out homes from all states in the aftermath of the conflagrations said it all, the most evident mistake being a complete lack of fire breaks due to government regulations, an inadequate water supply and lack of fire-fighting equipment.

In NSW alone 2439 homes were lost and at least 33 people died in the summer fire season of 2019-20.  More than 400 homes were burnt down in Victoria and 5 people lost their lives leaving nationally, 46.3 million acres ravaged and many of the forests permanently damaged never to recover.

Hard as it is to believe, this man, Greg Mullins, a former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner and a member of the ECLA is supposedly a seasoned fire fighter. He is blaming climate change. He is simply deflecting blame from the socialist policies of the political party duopoly.

“The escalation in natural disasters is driven by climate change,” he said.

“There should be a levy on the fossil fuel industry, given all their tax breaks.

“We had the hottest, driest year ever — a year that would not have happened without the impact of climate change.

“It drove the worst bushfires in Australia’s history — they were bigger, hotter, faster and more destructive [than] what we’ve ever experienced before.”

“The fires were weather driven and the weather was driven by a warming climate,” Mr Mullins said.

Australia was on average hotter in the 18th century than the 19th or 20th and the extent of the fires was not unique. The climate varies widely according to changing cycles of the Sun. Earth has been wobbling on its axis in recent years causing abnormal, prolonged exposure to the Sun in southern areas of the continent.

Blaming excess carbon dioxide emissions for fires is pure fantasy. Carbon dioxide is essential for life and responsible scientists say we need more not less.

Wikipedia states:

Australia’s hot, arid climate and wind-driven bushfires were a new and frightening phenomenon to the European settlers of the colonial era. The devastating Victorian bushfires of 1851, remembered as the Black Thursday bushfires, burned in a chain from Portland to Gippsland, and sent smoke billowing across the Bass Strait to north west Tasmania.

State Library of Victoria:

Widespread bushfires occurred in Victoria in early February 1851. The height of the destruction happened on Black Thursday, 6 February 1851.

‘Fires covered a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Areas affected include Portland, Plenty Ranges, Westernport, the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. Approximately 12 lives, one million sheep and thousands of cattle were lost’.

Mr Mullins should do some research into fire fighting methodology and revert to the tried and proven policies of Forestry departments before the advent of dangerous United Nations environmental policies enacted after Australia signed up to Agenda 21.

This UN policy on Environment and Development was endorsed by world governments at a Rio de Janerio conference in 1992 and is in reality a blueprint for de-population.

All Australian governments jumped onboard and its environmental policies ever since have all but destroyed agriculture and increased the cost of housing by 30 per cent. Environment departments followed this UN dictate closely and now we have borne the brunt of it.

Perhaps the former fire chief should set his sights on reversing the harmful effects of this treaty instead of following some esoteric climate change vision. Demanding another impost on hard hit tax payers is sheer folly.

Lack of hazard control burning relevant to all of Australia

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This article was written for a Tasmanian audience, however most rural Australians may relate to the sort of red and green tape that is making uncontrolled fires worse than they need to be.

Recent comments by the Premier of Tasmania, The Minister for Emergency Services David O’Byrne, and the Chief Fire Officer Mr Brown, saying it is too late to do hazard reduction burns is nothing short of breathtaking in its stupidity and cruelty to the Tasmanian community.

This Government and the fire service have shown over many years they have little or no understanding, or indeed interest, in reducing fuel loads in our forests or on land it is responsible for by using hazard reduction burning.

During the last 5 or so years there have been serious fires in most of the mainland states, and a series of fires in Tasmania. Any sensible person would think those in a leadership role would learn from those fires and take steps to help make our communities safer.

Why is it that farmers understand the need for planned hazard reduction burns, but those in a leadership role do not? Even seeing the devastation that results from wildfires does not convince them of the urgency of the need to have planned hazard or ‘fuel’ reduction burns.

Most of us would excuse the Government and its agencies (including the Fire Services) for not acting on what they may call ‘anecdotal evidence’.

However, there is the mountain of scientific evidence, reports on recent bushfires, and research from respected scientific organisations like the CRC and CSIRO who do advise , amongst other recommendations, that we have to reduce the fuel loads through hazard reduction burning.

What do the Government and fire service not understand with this simple equation?

This problem is not something that has just popped up since the Southern Tasmanian bushfires from last summer! The Tasmanian Government announced a strategic fuel reduction program in 2007, to reduce fuel loads and therefore reduce the risk to life and property. Very few hazard reduction burns were done, and clearly more time was spent on planning than burning. It seems the Government and its agencies are more interested in process than outcomes.

To prove the Government knows about the importance of controls, in 2009 there was a report done for the Tas Fire Research Fund called ‘Planned Burning in Tasmania’, that included ‘Operational Guidelines’ and a ‘Review of Current Knowledge’.

The report was in parts scathing of the Tasmanian Fire Service’s performance, but also highlighted the need for those reduction burns as a priority.

I also have written about bushfires, and the need for preparedness including the use of hazard reduction burns 3 times since 2007.

In 2009 I wrote “what I find disturbing is the frequency of large fires, and the destruction they have caused. After each large fire, we hear all the excuses from our leaders and the agencies why the fire season is bad, and why the fires were difficult to control. Then we hear all the promises of fuel reduction burns and management plans that will be implemented the following year. It is beginning to sound like a cracked record or a large echo”.

Cracked record or large echo – it does not matter. Premier, Minister O’Byrne, and Chief Officer Brown, your lack of action is frustrating many in the rural community and putting property and lives at risk; you must start to act now.

I found the planned burns section on the TFS web site. They have planned one burn of 3 hectares at Lees Paddocks. I would think we need many more hectares of strategically planned burns to be effective. The Government cannot ‘hope’ there will not be a fire season, as the environmental, economic and social scars are costly and long lasting after a major bushfire.

It is also unfair that our well trained and hardworking volunteers are relied on to keep turning up to uncontrolled fires every year, having to forego work, caring for business and family, or even their recreation.

We must start moving away from the precautionary approach of hazard reduction burns. By trying to find the ‘safest possible day’, the window of opportunity to burn gets so small that no burns will happen at all! Good for those that are against reduction burns, but clearly it is proven we will have devastating fires.

We do need to be strategic, we do need to have planned burns, and the community needs to be involved. But this should have started years ago.

Perhaps, with such clearly demonstrated long term malaise to fire management from the Government and responsible agencies, it is now appropriate to have an independent review, specifically into the structure, process, and who should really be managing this process.

It is not rocket science to see there are entrenched problems that cannot be fixed internally. We need good leadership to fix the problem.

To do nothing is like standing around whilst Rome burns.

David Byard

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