Mark Goldsworthy MP , Member for Kavel Mark Goldsworthy MP , Member for Kavel - Coat of Arms

Mark Goldsworthy MP

Member for Kavel

(08) 8391 5599 Email me
Mark Goldsworthy MP, Member for Kavel

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MARK GOLDSWORTHY MP

Member for Kavel

48 Hutchinson Street
MOUNT BARKER SA 5251

Tel: (08) 8391 5599
Fax: (08) 8391 4744


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Native Vegetation (Road Verges) Amendment Bill

Thursday, 2 July 2015

IN PARLIAMENT:

Mr GOLDSWORTHY (Kavel) (11:27): I am pleased to speak
in support of the bill the member for Morphett brings to the house.
Representing an electorate based predominantly in the Adelaide Hills—which, as
we all know, is regarded as a high fire risk region, and not only in this
state; the whole of Australia regards the Adelaide Hills as a high fire risk
region—I like to speak to matters that come before the house that relate to
fire management and other issues.

The member for Morphett brings a reasonable proposition to the
house, a sensible approach to bushfire management issues. I know that this
particular matter, relating to the sensible clearance of road verges, has been
raised by a number of CFS brigade captains within the Adelaide Hills and down
the northern part of the Fleurieu. I think the member for Morphett and I have
had a conversation with a particular CFS volunteer who has very strong views in
relation to this issue.

I recall having meetings and briefings and gathering
information, particularly from the previous chief officer of the CFS, Mr Euan
Ferguson. Mr Ferguson spoke at length about the need to manage the smaller
level of fuel that would allow a fire to catch on and continue, particularly
clearing around home properties and things of that nature. The small fuel is
probably the diameter of a pencil. Mr Ferguson used to hold up his pen and say,
'This is the sort of level of fuel that will start a fire burning.' I seek
leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted;
debate adjourned.


Second Reading
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 18 June 2015.)

Thursday 2nd July 2015

Mr GOLDSWORTHY (Kavel) (10:55): I am pleased to
continue my contribution in relation to the bill the member for Morphett has
brought to the house. From memory, I was making some observation and remarks in
relation to the previous chief officer of the Country Fire Service, Mr Euan
Ferguson, when he would come and speak to community meetings and provide
briefings to us and others in relation to how best to prepare a property
against the risk of a bushfire.

I was illustrating the fact that Mr Ferguson said that fuel of
the diameter of a pencil or a pen is such that it catches on fire very easily.
If an ember blow comes through or some fire comes through that smaller fuel
catches first and then, obviously, the bigger items of fuel catch on fire and
it goes from there. It has a snowballing effect, if I could use that as a
description. It makes sense, and I said previously that this is a sensible
approach and a reasonable proposition to mitigating the risk of bushfire damage
and reducing the effect of a bushfire being able to spread across the
landscape.

It therefore makes sense that, if you are able to reduce the
fuel load in and around your own home property, then, obviously, it makes sense to
carry out that work further out into your rural holding, as the member for
Morphett has. His wife owns a farm—a beautiful property, actually—down in
Meadows. My wife and I own a few acres up in a different part of the Adelaide
Hills. It makes sense to clean up your property and to collect that fuel and to
dispose of it accordingly—build a big bonfire and burn it through the winter
months. It therefore makes sense that along the road lines, on the road
corridors, the road verges you would carry out the same work. I know myself
that immediately adjacent to our property, on the other side of the Paracombe
Road, there is quite a number of gum trees growing and some old wattles that
have died, but I have got on to the local council. This generally is a local
government issue; it comes under local government jurisdiction.

I know the fire protection officer quite well in the Adelaide
Hills Council, and I have contacted him and he has had some work carried out on
a section of road adjacent to my property and my neighbour's property, because
pretty much everybody who lives in the Adelaide Hills, as I have said on a
number of occasions in this place, live in a very high fire risk area. It is
one of the highest fire risk areas in the world actually, and I have said that
before.

So the member for Morphett's bringing this bill to the house
makes absolute sense because if you are able to clean up along your road verges
it obviously reduces the risk of fire being able to spread across the
landscape. Where you have heavy, dry, dense fuel on verges, it has been
described to me as acting like a wick on a candle. If a fire comes through—and
it might be burning several kilometres away, but if it is a day of strong winds
we all know that the ember blow can blow those embers and start fires ahead of
the actual firefront. So if you have these road verges of dense, dry material
and high fuel loads it acts as a wick to start another fire, so you have fires
leapfrogging in front of the actual firefront. We saw that in the Sampson Flat
fire back at beginning of the year in January, and we have seen it right across
the landscape on days of catastrophic conditions and severe, extreme conditions
when fires do occur for one reason or another and start spreading across the
landscape.

As I said, the member for Morphett brings a sensible approach
and a reasonable proposition and he has shown me some photographs of how he has
cleaned up along his verges. I have spoken to a number of CFS brigade captains
and they are fully supportive of this proposition. So if the people on the
ground, the volunteers on the ground who go out and attend these incidents and
look to keep our communities safe and secure by putting these sometimes
horrendous fires out, are supportive then surely we need to take notice of
these people—the senior officers within the CFS volunteer brigades—because I
know they have spoken to the member for Morphett and the same people have
spoken to me. I think it is definitely worthy of support, so I commend the bill
to the house.

I also want to talk about an issue that has been raised—and
some people in the community will say, 'This just gives carte blanche to cut
down beautiful, majestic eucalypt trees.' Well that is not the case at all;
we're talking about the grasses, the fallen limbs and the branches that are
lying on the ground. Nobody is talking about clear-felling avenues of gum trees
down roads and so on, because when a fire comes through, it catches that fuel
on the ground.

As the member
for Morphett said, the actual flame height is usually three times the height of
the fuel, so if you get a hot fire going in that heavy undergrowth on the verge
it will catch up into the canopy of the trees, and then it is very difficult to
manage when it is in the canopy in the trees. The only effective way to deal
with that is through aerial firefighting water bombers, the aircraft that are
used. As I said, nobody is talking about clear-felling great tracts of roadside
or anything like that but it is a sensible, reasonable approach to this. I
commend the bill to the house.

 

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