Blindly supporting blind burning

Here’s another example of the government being at odds with itself. Two recent reports contradicted each other. In early December, at the same time the Environment Commissioner, Dr Ian McPhail, released his damning State of the Environment report for Victoria, the Brumby Government supported the other bushfire report and a trebling of burns across our forests.

The State Government now spends $100 million on fire fighting, up from $30 million in 1999. Little of this goes to ecologists and biologists, but there’s no shortage of funds for spin doctors to abuse the term “ecological burns” in their propaganda.

Brumby will now spend another $10 million so DSE can “work with the community to develop and implement large scale, planned burning”. Hey – hang on – didn’t they hear? Not all communities or landholders want these burns.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee (ENRC) was co-chaired by East Gippsland’s Craig Ingram and started in March ’07. John Pandazopoulos and Craig Ingram were in charge of the committee.

Despite many submissions highlighting the negative impacts of large scale burns, the report chose to cite “several submissions (that) acknowledged that burning is a powerful tool”
Environment Minister, Gavin Jennings has asked DSE to “develop a plan to continue the expansion of large scale, mosaic burns and monitor their effectiveness” What?! – they still don’t know how effective they are?

Although he also said “There is a need to begin to move away from hectare-based targets and start thinking about reduction of fuel loads across the board, understanding community sensitivity to planned burning and better mirroring nature through the effective use of fire as a land management tool.” Well for starters, nature never burnt 1/20th of the bush every year.

With climate change making summers more extreme, and previous burns proving useless in these extreme conditions – the one thing that can be guaranteed if the blitz-burn plan is adopted is that certain forest types will be changed to tinder-box dry ecosystems.

The highlighted box in Chapter 2 of the report’s Executive Summary pretty well sums up the redneck element within this enquiry. To paraphrase it – if anyone is opposed to torching the bush more often, then they need to change their attitude and unite with us lot. It’s really good for the environment you know.

The Government’s formal response is to the Inquiry is available at


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