The Hon. Adrian Pederick, Shadow Minister for Emergency Services (SA), The Hon. David Speirs, Leader of the Opposition (SA), Joint Media Release, 12 January 2023
The CFS has warned of hot and windy conditions in coming days as it’s revealed the Malinauskas Labor Government has slashed a million dollars from the crucial prescribed burn budget, putting South Australians at greater risk during bushfire season.
Following a wet winter, accelerated vegetation growth has occurred across the state and all 15 districts are now in Fire Danger Season.
However, it’s been revealed Labor approved a shocking “$1 million reduction in funding for DEW for the prescribed burning program” ahead of bushfire season.
The alarming cut was exposed by a South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM) official during the Economic and Finance Committee into the Emergency Services Levy.
Leader of the Opposition David Speirs labelled Labor’s $1 million cut as a “dangerous decision” and called for the funding to be restored.
“Funding for bushfire prevention to keep South Australians safe is not where you cut corners because you’re gambling with lives and this is an appalling decision by Peter Malinauskas,” he said.
“We can’t afford to have a situation where homes and property aren’t safeguarded against bushfires because money for prescribed burns was ripped from the budget.
“That $1 million must be restored immediately because when it comes to bushfires, we know prescribed burns play an important role in saving lives and property.
“It’s no secret that Peter Malinauskas has been hacking into departmental budgets to cover his lofty election promises and disappointingly we’ve now seen more than $70 million in cuts to practical environmental initiatives.”
The former Liberal Government invested record amounts – $37 million over five years to significantly increase hazard reduction – to futureproof the state as part of the $97.5 million response to the Keelty Review into the tragic 2019/20 bushfire season.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Adrian Pederick, said cuts to the prescribed burns also compromised the safety of firefighters.
“Peter Malinauskas’ cuts to the prescribed burns program is a slap in the face to the hardworking firefighters who risk their lives to save people and property,” he said.
“When fuel loads have been reduced, it provides safer areas for our firefighters to work from when they go head-to-head with bushfires.
“Bushfires are deadly, and we should be doing everything in our power to prepare the South Australian environment and the community for the dangers of summer.
“Peter Malinauskas needs to screw his head on straight and reinstate this crucial funding. There’s no time to waste.”