The Baillieu Government has cut funding for vital fire-fighting aircraft ahead of this year’s fire season, Shadow Emergency Services Minister, Danielle Green said today.
Ms Green said Minister for Emergency Services and Deputy Premier, Peter Ryan had cut funding for a third ‘Elvis-style’ air crane helicopter against the advice of his leading bushfire fighting agencies.
“Cutting back on Victoria’s bushfire defences to save money is no way to prepare Victoria for the bushfire season,” Ms Green said.
“Today, Mr Ryan said he made the cuts because he thinks Victoria does not need the aircraft this season – but this is not what the experts told him.
“The Victorian Fire Services sought funds for three crane helicopters and instead Mr Ryan gave them two.
“Mr Ryan needs to start supporting his agencies and taking their advice on how to keep Victorians safe instead of undermining them and thinking that he knows better than they do.”
Ms Green said Mr Ryan had dropped the ball on bushfire season preparation and was now trying to play catch up.
“Bushfire Action Week was more than a month late this year – and now we learn Mr Ryan has ignored the State’s bushfire experts and cut back on vital fire-fighting resources to prop up an ailing Budget,” she said.
“This is a wrong decision that will threaten Victoria’s capacity to fight fires.
“Peter Ryan needs to get focused on the job and his Government needs to sort out its funding priorities.
“Lives should not be put at risk to save a few dollars.
“Mr Ryan needs to take his own advice which is to prepare early and to listen to the experts. So far, he is doing neither.