Many lives will remain at risk unless the State Government acts quickly to implement all of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission’s final recommendations, Mr Hall said today.
“We need to ensure that those recommendations do not sit on the shelf and gather dust, as have many previous recommendations in response to bushfires,” Mr Hall said in parliament this week.
“We owe it to the 173 people who perished and their families to get on with the job and implement the very fine recommendations that have been given to us by the Royal Commission.”
Speaking in parliament, Mr Hall said the Coalition, if elected, had agreed in principle to implement all 67 recommendations.
“Some of those recommendations are going to be costly to implement, some are going to be difficult. There are some people may not agree with, but somewhere along the line we have got to say that we have given these three commissioners the task of doing this, they have worked diligently over that nearly 18-month period to produce what they have, we need to take their recommendations forward and implement them in full.”
Mr Hall said while many of those impacted by the fires had understandably found it difficult to participate in inquiry, others had been going through the consultation process for 18 months.
“My judgement is that most of them are saying, 'I have had enough of this. It is about time the government got on with the job, that we all collectively did something rather than continuing to talk about it'.
“I know the government will claim that it is now going out and doing some consultation on the recommendations, particularly some of the controversial ones, but I also know that that is not for everybody.
“The majority of people want to see some action now; they want to see some real commitment that the recommendations in this royal commission report are now going to be adopted. We owe it to those people; we owe it to the 173 people who lost their lives; we also owe it to the families and friends of those people and to those who lost property and are still recovering.”
Mr Hall said he hoped the government’s claimed consultation on eight of the controversial recommendations was not an excuse for further procrastination.
“We need to heed the lessons of this terrible tragedy and act now to ensure the consequences Victoria experienced after Black Saturday never happen again,” Mr Hall said.
In particular Mr Hall said recommendation 4 which looked at fire refuges and shelters, was an important one.
“With the bushfire season fast approaching, there are still some unresolved issues, particularly around neighbourhood safe places and community refuges, that need to be resolved,” he said.
Mr Hall also argued that recommendation 64 which called on the Government to replace the Fire Services Levy with a property-based levy, was imperative.
“Government members no longer have any excuse. They have said they were waiting on this report before making a decision on the levy so there is no reason for them not to act to restructure the levy and make it fairer for all members of the community.”