Evidence based approach to fuel reduction Fri 8 March 2013 Lara Giddings Premier The Premier, Lara Giddings, today condemned the Liberal Party for continuing to politicise bushfires. Ms Giddings said the Department of Premier and Cabinet strongly advised that the proposal from the State Fire Management Council to spend $25.6 million on a new fuel reduction unit within government needed more work. "Many of the proposals in the report may have merit and we welcome debate about having a more integrated approach to fuel reduction burning," Ms Giddings said. "However, it was clear that more work was needed on the detail behind the proposals, particularly in adapting them to the Tasmanian context. "It is not unreasonable or uncommon when dealing with taxpayer money to ensure that decisions are based on appropriate evidence and advice." Ms Giddings said DPAC advised that a number of issues should be explored before government made a decision on the proposal including: • what degree of 'landscape scale' burning would occur as a result of the proposed initiative; • what the expected reduction in the risk to the Tasmanian community would be; • what impact the proposed increases in fuel reduction burning would have on biodiversity and other environmental issues such as erosion; • the effect of the burning on carbon storage; • how the fuel reduction program priorities would be determined on an annual basis or what priority would be given to protecting carbon stores; and • the views of the community and other stakeholders not represented on the State Fire Management Council, such as wine growers, regarding increased fuel reduction burning, including the capacity to manage these concerns. "It is on that basis that the Government committed $400,000 for additional research," Ms Giddings said. "That is not to say that controlled burning has not been occurring. Fuel reduction burns played a vital part in limiting the spread of the Bicheno fire this summer and protecting property at Musselroe Bay." Ms Giddings said it was time for the Liberal Party to stop playing grubby politics with the bushfire disaster. "I would again call on the Liberal Party to stop playing political games with this very emotive issue. "Fuel reduction burning is a topical and worthwhile debate but the appropriate place for that to occur is during the upcoming bushfire inquiry. "This week I released the terms of reference for the inquiry for public comment and I would encourage the Liberals to be part of that process."