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Petition for bushfire program audit denied

By Melissa Sheil

A PETITION put forward by City of Kalamunda residents wanting changes to bushfire mitigation practices was shut down in council this week.

Signed by 100 ratepayers, the petition requested an audit into various aspects of the  Bushfire Hazard Mitigation Program they found problematic.

Forrestfield resident and petition creator Ray Hawes said it stemmed specifically from residents’ confusion regarding conflicting information and unfair work order process.

“My petition was in response to systemic and process failures within the program which if not addressed proactively by the City will continue to occur,” he said.

“Many residents find the system punitive, negative, intimidating and threatening and want to see change.”

Issues to be addressed by the audit included disparity of advice given by firefighters and fire control officers (FCO’s), lack of avenue for residents to give feedback, FCO’s issuing work orders when owners are not present leading to confusion on work required, and residents not given enough time to solve potential hazards before a work order was issued.

City staff noted that an audit would cost between $30,000 and $35,000 and that their program was one of the best in the state, as acknowledged with a recent award from DFES.

Cr Geoff Stallard said he fielded similar complaints from other residents and perhaps a review or consultation would suit better than an audit.

“There’s a lot more residents who didn’t sign [the petition] who have concerns but didn’t voice them,” he said.

“It’s great to receive awards but it doesn’t mean we’ve got it right forever, there’s always room for improvement.

“We need something more formal and to give residents an opportunity to tell us how we can sort these issues out.”

The motion to decline the petitions action was passed 8-4, with an amendment from Cr Brooke O’Donnell requesting staff write to signatories to hear their individual concerns.

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