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An Easter Lilly blooming in the aftermath of the fire

Public comments invited for bushfire inquiry

By Claire Ottaviano

THE independent review into the February Wooroloo bushfire will cover a range of areas including incident response, recovery efforts and even animal welfare but will not include future planning in bushfire prone areas.

The inquiry into the fire, which destroyed 86 homes and burnt through 10,000ha, will be led by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC).

Campaign group Save Perth Hills and the Stoneville-Parkerville Progress Association (SPPA) said they were dismayed by the decision to omit ‘planning and development in extreme bushfire zones’ from the review.

“While we’re relieved the inquiry might offer some closure to the hundreds in our community who have suffered from this disaster, we’re deeply disappointed the Government refused to formally acknowledge the potentially lifesaving role that safer planning of communities could play to reduce losses and impacts of catastrophic blazes like Wooroloo,” Save Perth Hills chair Jeremy Hurst said.

While ‘planning and development in bushfire prone areas’ will not be included in the review itself, the review will refer to the State’s ongoing Action Plan for Bushfire Framework Review, which specifically covers that area of concern.

East metro MLC Matt Swinbourn tabled a petition in the Upper House signed by more than 3000 West Australians in June calling for a temporary stop to subdivisions in extreme bushfire zones pending the outcomes of the inquiry.    

Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby said the State Government had done significant work to reduce the risk and impact of bushfires.

“But we can’t stop them all,” he said.

“In any major emergency there are lessons to be learned.

“The State Government is committed to learning as much as possible about the Wooroloo bushfire to see if any improvements can be made in the future.”

The public is invited to comment from August 20 until September 24.

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