An independent review of bushfire risk management in the Perth Hills area will include public hearings and submissions and require the co-operation of all Government agencies and officers with assistance from local governments.
Premier Colin Barnett said the work undertaken would be in addition to a review under way by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA).
“The bushfires in Perth’s Hills over the weekend of February 5 and 6 destroyed 71 homes with a further 39 homes and other structures damaged,” the Premier said.
“FESA conduct a review after every major fire which is currently under way however the State Government believes there are important lessons to be learned in terms of prescribed burning and building code matters specific to the Perth Hills area.”
Mr Barnett has appointed Mr Mick Keelty APM to chair the review.
“Mick Keelty was the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner for eight years from 2001-2009 and oversaw the expansion of the AFP following the terrorist attacks in the United States of America and played a crucial role in disaster assessment and emergency response at the time of the Bali bombings,” he said.
“Mr Keelty will bring his highly developed analytical skill and experience with policy development, security deployment, policing and peacekeeping to this role.”
The review will seek to address all aspects of bushfire risk management in the Perth Hills area with specific reference to:
the adequacy of current preventative measures specifically prescribed burning and other bushfire mitigation activities
the impact of land use, environmental and building laws, practices and policies in the affected areas, affecting bushfire prevention, mitigation and response and what, if any, any changes may be required
the actions that can and should be taken by landowners, residents and tenants in relation to bushfire risk management including undertaking vegetation clearance, operation of evaporative air-conditioners and storage and/or removal of hazardous inflammable material surrounding their dwellings and buildings. This should include consideration of associated enforcement regimes and penalties
the adequacy and effectiveness of information and communication campaigns and mechanisms, including systems for alerting residents in relation to the fire or potential fires
improvements that can be made in relation to the co-ordination of activities across all levels of government, including with volunteer groups
A report will be drafted within four months and submitted to the Premier for consideration before it is tabled in State Parliament and publicly released.
All Government agencies and officers of agencies will be required to fully and openly co-operate with the review and to provide and access to all information, documentation or other records as requested by the reviewer. Local government agencies will be expected to cooperate in the same terms.
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) will provide Mr Keelty with executive support and Mr Robert Cock QC will be available for legal advice.
Emergency Services Minister Rob Johnson said WA’s emergency services had performed extremely well during what had been one of the most devastating and destructive bushfire seasons in the State’s history.
“The Perth Hills bushfire was the ultimate test for our firefighting crews and required an incredible response from hundreds of operational staff, career and volunteer firefighters,” Mr Johnson said.
“The Liberal-National Government is committed to continually improving the State’s preparedness for these major incidents and will welcome any input into whether anything can be done to mitigate the possibility of destructive bushfires in the future.”
Written submissions from interested individuals and organisations preferably in electronic form submitted or sent by email to PerthFireReview@dpc.wa.gov.au
The email must include full postal address and contact details. Written submissions may also be sent to:
Perth Hills Bushfire February 2011 Review
197 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000
Submissions should be received by April 15, 2011.
To ensure this process is as transparent as possible, submissions may be published, therefore anyone wishing to make a confidential submission must make this clear.
Premier’s office - 9222 9475
Emergency Services Minister’s office - 9222 9211