State fire aid needed, says mayor

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Busselton Mayor Grant Henley
Camera IconBusselton Mayor Grant Henley

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley says more State funding may be needed to carry out bushfire mitigation.

While local governments in the Capes welcomed State Government money to develop and also carry out bushfire risk management plans, Cr Henley said volunteers as well as Parks and Wildlife crews potentially had more work than existing funding would deliver.

The State Government has provided the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River about $859,000 to deliver 69 treatments since 2017-18.

Busselton received less during this period, with $331,500 given to fund 14 burns.

But the average cost of the City’s burns were about twice that of the neighbouring Shire.

“The City adopted its BRMP late last year and is now developing the treatment schedules that follow development of the plan,” Cr Henley said. “It is not clear, though, that the funding being made available will be sufficient to ensure those plans can be fully implemented or that State agencies will be able to fully implement plans for bushfire risk mitigation on State-managed land, such as national parks.”

The State Government declined to comment.

Dunsborough-based realtor Joe White said a lack of burns on City land was threatening the safety of private property.

South West Greens MLC Diane Evers said climate change was reducing the options to address bushfire risk.

She wanted the State Government to establish top-level workshops with experts in fire planning, mitigation and control that included forest ecologists, environmental campaigners, and community brigade volunteers.

The workshops would “research, assess and deliberate on the best science, including indigenous burning, to determine the options and opportunities for best achieving the outcomes required”.

DBCA funding would be a critical component, Ms Evers said. “As climate change worsens, we must continually improve practices to address the new paradigm,” she said.

Prescribed burning, mechanical fuel-load reduction, perimeter burns, asset protection and parkland clearing as well as Aboriginal burning techniques should all be considered, she said.

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