A senior Liberal MP has suggested Environment Minister Gavin Jennings may be culpable in the Black Saturday bushfire deaths.
In a bitter parliamentary attack, former Liberal upper house leader Philip Davis said it was "inarguable" that the tragedy of the February 7 fires would have been less if the Government and authorities had heeded the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry for more fuel reduction.
"Subsequent to the (Black Saturday) fires … the Government could have come out and said, 'Regardless of everything else, we are going to deal with the core recommendation of the parliamentary inquiry and actually adopt it,' " he told Parliament.
"Because without it, more people will die and more property will be lost — and you, minister, will be culpable."
Last June, a Labor-dominated parliamentary committee recommended that the annual target for fuel-reduction burning should be more than doubled.
The inquiry on the impact of land management on bushfires said the Department of Sustainability and Environment's prescribed burning should be increased from 130,000 hectares to 385,000 hectares.
At the time, the Brumby Government rejected the increase, suggesting burn programs should be tailored to the site of fuel reduction rather than be dictated by a target size.
Last year, 150,000 hectares of fuel-reduction burning was completed, the most since 1993-94.
Mr Jennings interjected throughout Mr Davis' parliamentary speech, saying the Government had responded to the report in December and branded him dishonest.
"You have spoken for the last 20 minutes as if you do not know the answer (to the Government's stance on burning). You have been trying to get away with blue murder," Mr Jennings said.
"You might choose … to actually act in denial of the truth and think you can get away with it."
Mr Davis told Parliament it was instinctive for the Brumby Government to want to defend itself, but there was a collective burden on all MPs that there had been flawed land management.
"I personally feel an enormous sense of responsibility that, individually and collectively, we just did not fight to the death on this issue and force the Government to change its policy," he said.
In the aftermath of the devastating February 7 fires that claimed 173 lives, Mr Jennings said Victoria had burnt more than 400,000 hectares since adopting an accelerated burn-off program three years ago.
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