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Ministerial Releases

Minister exposes Opposition misleading the media on Hazard Reduction

Minister for Emergency Services, Steve Whan has slammed the Opposition's Melinda Pavey for putting out false and misleading information regarding Hazard Reduction, and calls on the Coalition to put out a costed policy to back up her repeated media antics.

"I made it clear when the Victorian Royal Commission report was released that the NSW Government was keen to learn from the recommendations and would be responding to those that are relevant to NSW," Minister Whan said.

"Ms Pavey went on radio this morning and promoted an uncosted and simplistic HR policy to simply burn 5 per cent of public lands.

"The Victorian Royal Commission referred only to public land while Ms Pavey keeps talking about the 20 million hectares of bushfire prone land in NSW, about half of which is actually private property and the responsibility of the owner.

"If Ms Pavey wants to continue peddling the notion that NSW should blindly accept all recommendations from the Victorian Royal Commission, then perhaps she should explain the Coalition's position on the recommendation that Government buys back all properties in bushfire prone areas.

"Ms Pavey's assertions that we should slavishly adopt all the recommendations means she needs to start telling all residents on the Sydney fringe and in the Blue Mountains that the Coalition would take their homes.

"Bushfire experts consistently say that setting percentage-of-area targets is a simplistic approach and that it is more important to protect homes rather than arbitrarily burning the bush to achieve a false target.

"Last year 228,000 properties worth $109 billion were protected with Hazard Reduction and bushfire mitigation works.

"There are 1.3 million properties on the bushland interface, which means nearly 20 per cent were protected last financial year, and the figure for this year is yet to be finalised.

"Obviously the RFS and other agencies can't burn all of the bush every year, but they are on track to complete a higher percentage of works from the previous financial year - weather permitting.

"The greatest challenge faced with HR is the weather, and you only have to look at recent weather to see the difficulties in carrying out scheduled burns.

"Ms Pavey continued with uninformed fear mongering, claiming:

"In the Blue Mountains we have only done 500 Hectares on average for the past 3 or 4 years, that's 0.35 per cent." -- Melinda Pavey, 2GB, The Alan Jones show.

"False. So far this year, there has been more than 3000 hectares of hazard reduction burning carried out in the Blue Mountains, which will continue - weather permitting.

"Hazard Reduction activities in the Blue Mountains are heavily dependent on the weather. The Blue Mountains area covers altitudes ranging from 150 metres to more than 1,000m.

"The area includes many valley systems, which usually do not dry out enough for hazard reduction burning until late summer.

"The Government has not got the community sanctuaries available." -- Melinda Pavey, 2GB, The Alan Jones show.

"False. NSW has 740 Neighbourhood Safer Places in 106 Local Government Areas and the list is growing. Victoria has 112 NSPs by contrast.

"There is a project by Sydney University Professor Mike Adam, they want rolling funding to get scientific evidence to look at the best way to manage that Alpine region in terms of Hazard Reduction. Steve Whan hasn't even gone and had a look at that project, let alone find $180,000 to keep that program going." -- Melinda Pavey, 2GB, The Alan Jones show.

"The NSW Government is the biggest contributor to the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, through which this Highfire Project by Sydney University has been funded.

"The CRC is the leading source of bushfire research in this country, and the NSW Government has always worked well with its researchers and taken all peer reviewed recommendations on bushfire management seriously.

"The only time the Opposition came close to putting out a policy was when Ms Pavey indicated on her website a HR target for the Government, which turned out to mean burning every year the equivalent of 12 times the area affected by the Victorian bushfires, or half the size of Tasmania.

"That policy would have cost many billions of dollars, yet Ms Pavey blithely gave no indication of how it would be funded.

"The day I raised it in Parliament, Barry O'Farrell quickly left the chamber and before Question Time had finished, the mad policy was removed from Ms Pavey's website.

"It is eight months until the election and the Opposition has been bleating for nearly four years about increasing Hazard Reduction, but they still haven't outlined their policy and they still haven't committed to how they'd fund it," Minister Whan said.

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