VICTORIAN Shadow Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of the Nationals Peter Ryan has hit back at a story appearing in the Weekly Times claiming that the Coalition has performed a major backflip on bushfire policy.
The article claims the coalition would not be implementing all 67 recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
"The Weekly Times has misrepresented previous reports and costings on the undergrounding or replacement of powerlines across all of Victoria, which would involve a far greater cost than the initial progressive replacement of powerlines in high-risk areas recommended by the Royal Commission and committed to by the Coalition," Mr Ryan said.
"Recommendation 27 of the Bushfires Royal Commission calls for the ‘progressive replacement’ of SWER lines in areas of ‘highest bushfire risk’ and that the work be undertaken ‘within 10 years’, further that there be the ‘progressive replacement’ of all 22 KV distribution feeders as the feeders reach the end of their engineering lives."
Mr Ryan said the coalition was committed to:
- identifying where precisely are the high risk bushfire areas;
- identifying where precisely the SWER lines are within those areas;
- assessing which replacement option or options are best implemented for given bushfire areas;
- scoping the prospective worksites to determine precise details of topography, terrain, soil types, access and other such relevant factors;
- determining the remaining life span in the existing SWER line system as it reaches the end of its functional capacity;
- prioritising the replacement program to accord with recommendation 27 and in light of the investigatory work otherwise undertaken;
- determining funding sources to enable the work to be undertaken and allocating those funds in accordance with the work priorities; and
- beginning work.
"The initial $100 million fund comprising $50 million from a Coalition Government and $50 million from distributors will be used for these purposes," he said.
"Further funding sources will be determined and allocated as the scope of works is properly defined."