Greens about-face on Tasmania safety burn-offs

A homestead burns in Tasmania

Australia endures regular bushfires. They destroy property and kill people and wildlife, but they’re necessary for the survival of various plants and trees.

The most important tool in managing bushfires to help ensure they don’t become monster conflagrations is controlled burnoffs in the cooler months — it’s really the only tool, since burning is the only practical way to destroy undergrowth and dead timber. That way, when the fires arise in the hot season they are not so large and damaging.

Burnoffs have a fascinating history. They’ve been practised since Europeans arrived in Australia, and of course the Aborigines, who started the burnoffs thousands of years ago, taught them how to do it. Since then the application of Western science has improved our understanding of the bush.

This week, on the Tasmanian Greens web site, in response to “a few queries about the Greens’ policy on fuel reduction burns,” somebody signing himself “Greens staff” claimed that the Party supports “fuel reduction burns as a vital tool in protecting lives and property in all land tenures including National Parks.”

But it’s only two years ago that they wanted to shut them down.

In March 2011, Paul ‘Basil’ O’Halloran MP, Greens Health spokesperson, issued a press releasein the Green Party’s name — wanting to stop regular forest safety burns on “environmental” and health grounds.

He lambasted “burn-off practice as outdated, old-school and not in line with appropriate practice today.”

“Tasmania’s beautiful autumn days are blighted by the dense smoke plumes blocking out the sun and choking our air.”

“This is an unacceptable situation. It compromises Tasmanians’ health, our environment, and is an insult to common-sense.”

He doesn’t mention old-growth forests nor incineration of forest waste following tree felling, making it clear he’s talking only about annual fuel-reduction burns.

“We also want to see an end to these burns, and are calling on the Minister to consult with the community to establish a date by which this polluting practice will end once and for all.”

“It is also concerning [sic] at the impact these burns have on Tasmania’s biodiversity and threatened species such as the Tasmanian Devil, burrowing and freshwater crayfish, and a myriad of other plant and animal species.”

How about the human species, Basil, and their hard-won assets? But no:

The Tasmanian Greens today said that the Parliament needs to commission an independent study into the total social, environmental and economic costs of forestry burns, as they continue to emit pollutants into the air causing distress to the many Tasmanians suffering from respiratory complaints, and also impacting on Tasmania’s clean, green and clever brand.

The Greens must quickly clarify their position on fuel-reduction burns and either deal with Basil O’Halloran’s treachery towards the victims of the fires or confirm it.

h/t Bob D

8 Thoughts on “Greens about-face on Tasmania safety burn-offs

  1. We should hardly be surprised at anything from the Australian Greens as they are now publicly endorsing criminal and fraudulent behavior.

    Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan made a hoax press release from ANZ stating that “the bank had pulled $1.2 billion in funding from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek project due to environmental and social concerns”

    This hoax has caused about $300 million to be wiped off the companies value, not to mention pension funds, Mum and Dad investors etc.

    However, Christine Milne, supports the hoax, stating this:

    Greens leader Christine Milne and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon have backed Mr Moylan, with Ms Milne telling Fairfax media that his hoax was “part of long and proud history of civil disobedience, potentially breaking the law, to highlight something wrong”.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/companies/asic-seizes-jonathan-moylans-phone-pc-amid-whitehave-hoax-probe/story-fn91v9q3-1226550074368

  2. My enquiry on the Green’s Facebook page led to this page

    http://greens.org.au/policies/environment/environmental-principles

    Specifically 13 and 14:

    Rigorous evidence based bushfire research that considers the use of fire, and best environmental and fire risk minimization in building practices.

    An effective and sustainable strategy for fuel-reduction management that will protect biodiversity and moderate the effects of wildfire for the protection of people and assets, developed in consultation with experts, custodians and land managers

  3. The Tassie Green Facebook page is a treasure trove

    This comment caught my attention:
    (Speaking of Christine Milne)

    Her stance when I spoke to her was super extreme and bordered crazy. I wish I recorded it because it was quite wild. We covered a variety of topics but summing up, people shouldn’t be allowed near forests for any reason, selective logging, tourism, forest management all big no no’s. Then she started about how great one child policy is and how we should adopt that here in Australia. With her as party leader I find it hard to begin to support the greens despite what good things they can and have achieved. Unfortunately the few politicians i’ve had the chance to speak to seem just as bat shit crazy and stubborn

  4. There is another article by Miranda Devine in the Telegraph

    Stop telling bushfire victims to shut up

    The Greens have developed a new set of “aims” including a caveat-studded “effective and sustainable strategy for fuel-reduction management”.

    In practice, on the ground, it amounts to covert opposition. Williams scoffs at the Orwellian sophistry: “They publicly say they support it. The reality of how it pans out is nothing like that. Greens have two faces and underneath they are undermining everything.”

    While there have been improvements under a new state government, Williams says hazard reduction is still inadequate across NSW, reaching just 1 per cent rather than the 5 per cent minimum recommended by the Victorian bushfire inquiry.

  5. The bush fires also get a mention in the Herald’s latest piece on GW,

    Editorial: If this is global warming, we’re all in it together

  6. clive hoskin on March 8, 2013 at 9:17 am said:

    I live in Queensland and many years ago, they stopped the Forestry from doing controlled burn-offs. I and my family got caught in a fire between Landsborough and Bribie Island, because of the Greens interference in something they have no knowledge of. Anyone taking any notice of what they say has a fool for a friend! They must be eliminated from office.

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