Posted 8/8/10 

 

Brumby Government's Interim Response to Bushfire Royal Commission Recommendations:

 

Government's Interim Response to all 65 Royal Commission recommendations

 

Source: Premier John Brumby's media release 2 August 2010 http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/newsroom/11351.html

 

The State government has indicated "support in principle" responses to most of the Royal Commission's recommendations (shown below in green). 

 

However, there are 14 which have not received unqualified "support in principle" (shown below in red).

 

The Premier's media release of 2 August (see link above), which gives the government's responses, does not address all elements of the Royal Commission's recommendations.  Parts of Recommendation 5 are not included in the media release. These omitted elements are included in the list below in (# blue) italics.  Consequently, Victorians don't know the government's response to these matters.

 

Click here to see a condensed list of only the 14 recommendations not given unqualified 'support in principle' by the government

 

Go to  http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Assets/VBRC-Final-Report-Recommendations.pdf (the Royal Commission's website) to download the final recommendations (NB this pdf file downloads with the text in very small print and is difficult to read.  You may need to print at A3 size).

 

 

Chapter 1: Bushfire Safety Policy

 

1. Support in principle, with further consultation to be undertaken around the issue of evacuation and shelters.

 

The State revise its bushfire safety policy. While adopting the national Prepare. Act. Survive. framework in Victoria, the policy should do the following:

2. Support in principle.

 

The State revise the approach to community bushfire safety education in order to:

3. Support in principle with further consultation regarding evacuation, shelters and a register.

 

The State establish mechanisms for helping municipal councils to undertake local planning that tailors bushfire safety options to the needs of individual communities. In doing this planning, councils should:

4. Further consultation.

 

The State introduce a comprehensive approach to shelter options that includes the following:

5. Support in principle, with further consultation to be undertaken around the issue of evacuation.

 

The State introduce a comprehensive approach to evacuation, so that this option is planned, considered and implemented when it is likely to offer a higher level of protection than other contingency options. The approach should:

#  missing from the Premier's media release

 

6. Support in principle.

 

Victoria lead an initiative of the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs to ensure that the national curriculum incorporates the history of bushfire in Australia and that existing curriculum areas such as geography, science and environmental studies include elements of bushfire education.

 

7. Support in principle.

 

The Commonwealth lead an initiative through the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management, facilitated by Emergency Management Australia, to develop a national bushfire awareness campaign.

 

 

Chapter 2: Emergency and Incident Management

 

8. Support in principle with consultation about implementation.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment amend their procedures to require the following:

9. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment:

10. Support in principle.

 

The State clarify whether, during major fires, Victoria Police should discharge its coordination functions from the State Emergency Response Coordination Centre or from the State Control Centre.

 

11. Support in principle.

 

The State consider amending the Emergency Management Act 1986 and the Emergency Management Manual Victoria in order to achieve the following:

12. Support in principle, together with recommendation 13.

 

The State consider either amending the Emergency Management Act 1986 or adopting a standing practice to require the Minister for Police and Emergency Services or the Chief Commissioner of Police to consult the Premier about the possibility of declaring a state of disaster for all of or any part of Victoria whenever the Minister or the Chief Commissioner of Police becomes aware of circumstances that make it a reasonable possibility that the criteria for making such a declaration will be satisfied.

 

13. Support in principle, together with recommendation 12.

 

The State consider amending the Emergency Management Act 1986 to introduce a graded scale of emergency declarations short of a state of disaster.

 

14. Support in principle.

 

The Victorian fire agencies amend the AIIMS framework before the 2010–11 fire season in order to do the following:

15.Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment:

16. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment improve mapping support in the following ways:

17. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment establish before the 2010–11 fire season:

18. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment amend their procedures to require that a suitably experienced, qualified and competent person be appointed as Incident Controller, regardless of the control agency for the fire.

 

19. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority provide to all CFA volunteers an identification card or similar to facilitate their passage through roadblocks established in accordance with the 2009 Guidelines for the Operation of Traffic Management Points during Wildfires.

 

Chapter 3: Fire Ground Response

 

20. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment amend their policies on aerial preparedness and standby arrangements, their dispatch protocols and the management of aircraft in order to do the following:

21. Support in principle.

 

The State, in conjunction with Emergency Management Australia and the Department of Defence, develop an agreement that allows Commonwealth aerial resources that are suitable for firefighting and support activities to be incorporated in preparedness plans and used on days of high fire risk.

 

22. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment standardise their operating systems and information and communications technologies with the aim of achieving greater efficiency and interoperability between agencies.

 

23. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority review and improve its communications strategy as a matter of priority and develop a program for identifying and responding to black spots in radio coverage.

 

24. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment amend their procedures for investigating safety incidents and ‘near-misses’ to ensure that all dangerous incidents, including back-burns, are fully investigated and that all relevant people are consulted and informed of the results.

 

25. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment require without exception that all relevant staff be trained in the need for Incident Controller approval to be obtained before a back-burn is lit.

 

26. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment adopt the title ‘safety officer’ (as opposed to ‘safety adviser’) and require without exception that a safety officer be appointed to every level 3 incident management team.

 

 

Chapter 4: Electricity-caused Fires

 

27. Further consultation.

 

The State amend the Regulations under Victoria’s Electricity Safety Act 1998 and otherwise take such steps as may be required to give effect to the following:

28. Support in principle.

 

The State (through Energy Safe Victoria) require distribution businesses to change their asset inspection standards and procedures to require that all SWER lines and all 22-kilovolt feeders in areas of high bushfire risk are inspected at least every three years.

 

29. Support in principle.

 

The State (through Energy Safe Victoria) require distribution businesses to review and modify their current practices, standards and procedures for the training and auditing of asset inspectors to ensure that registered training organisations provide adequate theoretical and practical training for asset inspectors.

 

30. Support in principle.

 

The State amend the regulatory framework for electricity safety to require that distribution businesses adopt, as part of their management plans, measures to reduce the risks posed by hazard trees—that is, trees that are outside the clearance zone but that could come into contact with an electric power line having regard to foreseeable local conditions.

 

31. Support in principle.

 

Municipal councils include in their municipal fire prevention plans for areas of high bushfire risk provision for the identification of hazard trees and for notifying the responsible entities with a view to having the situation redressed.

 

32. Support in principle, with further consultation about reclosers.

 

The State (through Energy Safe Victoria) require distribution businesses to do the following:

33. Support in principle.

 

The State (through Energy Safe Victoria) require distribution businesses to do the following:

34. Support in principle.

 

The State amend the regulatory framework for electricity safety to strengthen Energy Safe Victoria’s mandate in relation to the prevention and mitigation of electricity-caused bushfires and to require it to fulfil that mandate.

 

 

Chapter 5: Deliberately Lit Fires

 

35. Support in principle.

 

Victoria Police continue to pursue a coordinated statewide approach to arson prevention and regularly review its approach to ensure that it contains the following elements:

36. Support in principle.

 

The Commonwealth, states and territories continue to pursue the National Action Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia, giving priority to producing a nationally consistent framework for data collection and evaluating current and proposed programs in order to identify and share best-practice approaches.

 

 

Chapter 6: Planning and Building

 

37. Support in principle.

 

The State identify a central point of responsibility for and expertise in mapping bushfire risk to:

38. Support in principle.

 

The State implement a regional settlement policy that:

39. Support in principle.

 

The State amend the Victoria Planning Provisions relating to bushfire to ensure that the provisions give priority to the protection of human life, adopt a clear objective of substantially restricting development in the areas of highest bushfire risk—giving due consideration to biodiversity conservation—and provide clear guidance for decision makers. The amendments should take account of the conclusions reached by the Commission and do the following:

40. Further consultation.

 

The Country Fire Authority amend its guidelines for assessing permit applications for dwellings, non-dwellings and subdivisions in the Bushfire-prone Overlay in order to accommodate the amendments to the Wildfire Management Overlay that are implemented as a result of recommendation 39 and make the guidelines available to municipal councils and the public. The revised guidelines should do the following:

41. Support in principle.

 

The State:

42. Support in principle.

 

The Department of Sustainability and Environment develop and administer a collective offset solution for individual landholders who are permitted to remove native vegetation for the purpose of fire protection.

 

43. Support in principle.

 

The Department of Sustainability and Environment conduct biodiversity mapping identifying flora, fauna and any threatened species throughout Victoria and make the results publicly available. The format used should be compatible with that used for Bushfire-prone Area mapping.

 

44. Support in principle.

 

The Country Fire Authority produce for community guidance material on fire-resistant landscape and garden design, including a list of fire-resistant species.

 

45. Support in principle.

 

The State press municipal councils—in particular, Murrindindi Shire Council—to urgently adopt a bushfire policy in their Local Planning Policy Framework and incorporate bushfire risk management in their planning policies and strategies for rebuilding communities such as Marysville, Kinglake and others affected by the January–February 2009 fires.

 

46. Further consultation

 

The State develop and implement a retreat and resettlement strategy for existing developments in areas of unacceptably high bushfire risk, including a scheme for non-compulsory acquisition by the State of land in these areas.

 

47. Support in principle.

 

Standards Australia do the following:

48. Further consultation.

 

The Australian Building Codes Board do the following:

49. Further consultation

 

The State modify its adoption of the Building Code of Australia for the following purposes:

50. Support in principle.

 

Standards Australia move expeditiously to develop a standard for bushfire sprinklers and sprayers.

 

51. Support in principle.

 

The Victorian Building Commission, in conjunction with the Country Fire Authority, develop, publish and provide to the community and industry information about ways in which existing buildings in bushfire-prone areas can be modified to incorporate bushfire safety measures.

 

52. Support in principle.

 

The State develop and implement, in consultation with local government, a mechanism for sign-off by municipal councils of any permit conditions imposed under the Bushfire-prone Overlay and the regular assessment of landowners’ compliance with conditions.

 

53. Further consultation.

 

The State amend s. 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962 to require that a vendor’s statement include whether the land is in a designated Bushfire-prone Area, a statement about the standard (if any) to which the dwelling was constructed, the bushfire attack level assessment at the time of construction (where relevant) and a current bushfire attack level assessment of the site of the dwelling.

 

54. Support in principle.

 

The State amend the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to enable the Chief Officer to delegate the power to issue fire prevention notices.

 

55. Support in principle.

 

The State initiate the development of education and training options to improve understanding of bushfire risk management in the building and planning regimes by:

Chapter 7: Land and Fuel Management

 

56. Support in principle, with further consultation regarding implementation and scale-up.

 

The State fund and commit to implementing a long-term program of prescribed burning based on an annual rolling target of 5 per cent minimum of public land.

 

57. Support in principle.

 

The Department of Sustainability and Environment report annually on prescribed burning outcomes in a manner that meets public accountability objectives, including publishing details of targets, area burnt, funds expended on the program, and impacts on biodiversity.

 

58. Support in principle.

 

The Department of Sustainability and Environment significantly upgrade its program of long-term data collection to monitor and model the effects of its prescribed burning programs and of bushfires on biodiversity in Victoria.

 

59. Support in principle.

 

The Department of Sustainability and Environment amend the Code of Practice for Fire Management on Public Land in order to achieve the following:

60. Support in principle.

 

The State amend the exemptions in clause 52.17-6 of the Victoria Planning Provisions to ensure that the provisions allow for a broad range of roadside works capable of reducing fire risk and provide specifically for a new exemption where the purpose of the works is to reduce bushfire risk.

 

61. Support in principle.

 

The State and Commonwealth provide for municipal councils adequate guidance on resolving the competing tensions arising from the legislation affecting roadside clearing and, where necessary, amend environment protection legislation to facilitate annual bushfire-prevention activities by the appropriate agencies.

 

62. Support in principle.

 

VicRoads implement a systematic statewide program of bushfire risk assessment for all roads for which it is responsible, to ensure conformity with the obligations in s. 43 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 and with the objectives expressed in the VicRoads 1985 Code of Practice.

 

 

Chapter 10: Organisational Structure

 

63. Support in principle.

 

The State enact legislation designed to achieve two specific ends:

The Fire Commissioner should have responsibility for the following:

64. Further consultation.

 

The State replace the Fire Services Levy with:

Chapter 11: Research and Evaluation

 

65. Support in principle.

 

The Commonwealth establish a national centre for bushfire research in collaboration with other Australian jurisdictions to support pure, applied and long-term research in the physical, biological and social sciences relevant to bushfires and to promote continuing research and scholarship in related disciplines.

 

 

Chapter 12: Monitoring Implementation

 

66. Support in principle.

 

The State appoint an independent monitor or the Victorian Auditor-General to assess progress with implementing the Commission’s recommendations and report to the Parliament and the people of Victoria by 31 July 2012.

 

 

Reflections

 

67. Support in principle.

 

That the State consider the development of legislation for the conduct of inquiries in Victoria – in particular, the conduct of Royal Commissions.