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MLC Martin Aldridge inspecting a fire damaged Gidgegannup property.

Calls continue for bushfire inquiry six months on

By Claire Ottaviano

THIS Sunday marks the six-month anniversary of the start of the Wooroloo Bushfire with calls for a bushfire inquiry continuing.

This week a Department of Emergency Services spokesperson confirmed the State Government was still finalising a framework for the inquiry into the fire which ravaged 86 homes and damaged many more.

Agricultural Region MLC and volunteer firefighter Martin Aldridge visited impacted residents last week.

“The government owes it to the families and first responders impacted by the Wooroloo bushfire to urgently commit to an independent review,” he said.

“Despite repeated attempts by the Opposition to seek information through question time or obtain a briefing from the Minister for Emergency Services on this issue, the response from the government has been nothing but radio silence.

“The purpose of an independent review is not about apportioning blame or pointing the finger. Rather it is an important opportunity to learn lessons and give us a better ability to respond to emergencies in the future.”

On May 5, Mr Aldridge asked Premier Mark McGowan if he intended to start a special inquiry into the  Wooroloo bushfire, considering there had been previous inquiries following the 2011 Roleystone and Margaret River bushfires and 2016 Waroona-Yarloop bushfire.

In response, the Leader of the House representing the Premier  said the State Government was considering a framework for the review and invited the member to a briefing.

“When the devastating 2016 Waroona-Yarloop bushfire occurred, the State Government of the day made an immediate decision to conduct a review,” Mr Aldridge said.

“The Ferguson Report, as it came to be known, was completed on June 23 of the same year, a turnaround time of less than 170 days.

“In the more than 170 days since the Wooroloo bushfire, the Government has yet to commit to an independent review, establish the terms of reference, or provide a briefing to the Opposition, despite repeated requests.”

In June, the State’s peak-body for bushfire volunteers launched its own inquiry.

The Bushfire Volunteers Association is calling on volunteer and career firefighters, residents, local governments and members of the public to share their experiences.

Bushfire Volunteers’ chief executive Darren Brown said the association had taken the unprecedented step of launching its own inquiry because members had expressed concern over the absence of a government inquiry.

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