By ERWIN CHLANDA
Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler, on Saturday released “the Territory’s first Bushfires NT Volunteer Strategy 2019-2022”.
It is not taking into account, because it isn’t finished, a report being prepared for her colleague, Lauren Moss, about the 17 day bushfire which in January devastated half of the West MacDonnell National Park.
Ms Lawler is having a hard time because also last week, some of her senior bureaucrats copped a hammering from the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption over their handling of Anzac High.
Ms Lawler is of course responsible for those officers and she is on the record of taking their advice on the demolition of the school.
“Our volunteers wanted more guidance and support; we have listened, and provided a long-term strategy, which will help our current volunteers and pave the way for new recruits,” she provided in a ready-made statement abut the new fire volunteers strategy.
Some of those volunteers, risking their lives, carried much of the fire fighting load during the January blaze that destroyed a lot of the most important asset of the tourism industry in Alice Springs.
Why Ms Lawler couldn’t wait for the Moss report is a question the co-funders, with the NT, of the Lawler report may be asking, namely the Australian Government through the Natural Disaster Resilience Program.
The Alice Springs News published two investigative reports about aerial fire fighting, on September 20 and on September 23.
We asked repeatedly why water bombing had not been used in the January blaze. We still still don’t have an answer.
The minders of Ms Moss are passing the buck to the minders of Ms Lawler, while expert advice says the fire could have been nipped in the bud before getting out of control, causing incalculable damage to our economy and putting at grave risk the very people about whom Ms Lawler provides this ready-made puff: “The new Strategy is all about attracting, supporting and retaining more volunteers by providing better training and more support – this will result in a higher quality of service for our community.”
To do this, six priority areas have been identified, she says:
• Improve the capacity of volunteers by developing supportive systems and processes;
• Create communication pathways to ensure transparency and understanding;
• Raise the profile of Bushfires NT by building community support;
• Strengthen relationships by fostering productive partnerships;
• Drive change by identifying emerging trends and opportunities; and
• Continue to improve through monitoring and evaluation.
A “find” of the whole Lawler report did not turn up a single reference to water bombing nor aerial fire fighting.
IMAGE from the Lawler report.
By ERWIN CHLANDA