This is something to watch. In a Productivity Commission draft report cited in early January 2015, the suggestion was that more needs to be spent on bushfire mitigation exercises (to save on disaster relief and recovery). Sounds reasonable? But this suggested $200M mixed with the lobbying influence of the Australian Forest products Association (AFPA), and Abbott’s anti-environment doctrine, this could well translate into giving money to states that will ‘thin’ native forests and National Parks, supposedly to reduce fire threat and then use the thinnings to fuel electricity furnaces.
The draft report recommended “The Australian Government should use some of the imputed ‘savings’ from reductions in relief and recovery funding to increase funding for mitigation… The Commission recommends that Australian Government funding for mitigation be increased to $200 million per year over a transition period.”
Besides future disaster payments being cut to repair their budget, some of these funds might end up subsidising the logging of previously out of bounds forests.
AFPA has been pushing this convenient ‘solution’ to their overlogging and a scarcity of logs for years. With a wink and a nudge, it seems to have been accepted by the Coalition with $15M set aside for this general purpose. It was part of their election platform and has since been reconfirmed by Colbeck.
The government has always been vague about what exactly it would be used for, but Colbeck’s media statement shows the likelihood of dressing up an industry subsidy as bushfire mitigation.