WRAP - No prison in Westbury
WRAP media release - 29 October 2020

Bushfire Mitigation Measures Bill should be a concern not just for prison opponents

The Government has circulated draft legislation that has potential to place onerous obligations on landowners to take bushfire mitigation measures at their own personal cost. The deadline for submissions on the Bushfire Mitigation Measures Bill 2020 closed last Friday.

"This is yet another piece of legislation the Government is trying to sneak through under the radar of COVID-19, while everyone's attention is focussed elsewhere. I have spoken to many people none of whom know anything about this Bill. It could see some people forced to take arbitrarily determined bushfire mitigation measures, such as land clearing on their properties, at significant cost to themselves. There is no legislation like this elsewhere in Australia, so the Government is clearly going out on a limb with this.

It is also extremely concerning to us that the Bill seeks to override other laws, such as the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993, the Crown Lands Act 1976 and the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 in a way that is completely opaque.

What is clear though, is that the Bill presents a sneaky, back door way for the Government to get its planning application on the Brushy Creek reserve over the line far more easily.

One of the biggest obstacles to the Government's planning application for a prison on the reserve is the application of the Bushfire Code. The Code makes it hard to place a "vulnerable use" such as prison, school or hospital, in a bushfire prone area when there are other locations available.

The Bushfire Mitigation Measures Bill 2020 would help the Government sidestep this issue, as it would override the Code. It explains why they are in a hurry to get it through even though it is a terrible piece of legislation in terms of its potential impact on Tasmanians.

I wrote to Minister Archer last week seeking confirmation that this legislation would not be used on the prison proposal. She has not done so to date.

Without being obvious on its face, this Bill is a piece of legislation designed to facilitate a particular development. However, the wider community should not have to pay the cost of the Government's obsession with this site."

Linda Poulton
President, WRAP Inc


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