Wednesday, 23 October 2019
NORTHERN Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall has used a speech to State Parliament this week to call for an immediate and thorough review of fire management in the state’s National Parks following the horrific Bees Nest bushfire, near Ebor.
Mr Marshall said farmers devastated by the blaze, which now covers 106,018 hectares, were questioning the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s approach to bush fire management, in particular its efforts to reduce the fire load.
“My office has received multiple letters, emails and phone calls from farmers who have talked about how the fire has changed their mindset from facing the worst drought in history to now also dealing with the impact of the worst fire in their local history,” Mr Marshall said.
“Given reports the fire started in Guy Fawkes National Park, I have written to Minister for Energy and Environment requesting a full and immediate review of fire management in the State’s National Parks in response to these concerns.
“There needs to be a discussion between NSW National Parks, the NSW Rural Fire Service and the impacted private landholders to allow for better and more consistent hazard reduction burning practices in the future – an effort I wholeheartedly support.
“To help these landholders get back on their feet I have also written to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott demanding a full public debriefing take place in Ebor to support and answer questions of those affected by this disaster.”
Mr Marshall said it was clear landholders feel there is a ‘lock it and leave it’ approach to management in National Parks, which is not good enough.
“Farmers already burdened by drought are now facing the costly prospect of rebuilding vital infrastructure like boundary fences because of this fire,” he said.
“It is estimated 2,250 kilometres of fencing has been destroyed with an expected replacement bill of upwards of $22 million.
“Landowners sharing a boundary with National Parks have been promised fencing materials from park management, but have also been told the cost and time of constructing those fences is up to them.
“They feel that situation is an insult given that the fire is reported to have started inside the Guy Fawkes National Park.”
Mr Marshall added Local Lands Services staff have been working tirelessly with local landholders to assess the losses of farm infrastructure including fencing, stockyards and sheds.
“In total, 149 properties have been impacted by this fire, and so far 109 of those properties have been visited by LLS for emergency assessment and to support landholders with emergency fodder,” he said.
“Sadly these losses extend to an estimated 398 head of livestock caught in the fire’s grip and new losses are being discovered as the full picture starts to emerge from the ashes.
“I give the commitment to continue to work with landholders, no matter how long it takes, to ensure that they get the support they need to get back on their feet.”
The below Dropbox link has a copy of Mr Marshall’s full speech:
To read the transcript head visit: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardResult.aspx#/docid/HANSARD-1323879322-108269/link/100