Michelle Lensink

Flinders Chase National Park

 I seek leave to ask questions of the Minister for Environment and Heritage on the Flinders Chase fire.

The PRESIDENT: The honourable member does not need to seek leave if she is asking questions.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Has the minister sought a report on this debacle, involving a two-hour 10-hectare planned burn in a national park which turned into a 1 000- hectare fire which burned out of control for four hours?

The PRESIDENT: The honourable member did not seek leave to make an explanation; she wanted to ask a question, so she should ask her question.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If so, what is the explanation?

Will the minister seek a review of burning guidelines, and does she have an estimate of the value of the damage that has taken place?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Environment and Conservation): I do not have the detail of the responses with me. I am happy to take the questions on notice and bring back a reply.

Thursday 30 October 2008

In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (13 September 2007).

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy): The Minister for Environment and Conservation has advised:

1. On the afternoon of Thursday, 6 September 2007, a routine prescribed burn was conducted by the Department for Environment and Heritage (DEH) in Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island (along Yacca Flat Road near Remarkable Rocks) as the first stage of a 950 hectare ecological burn. This was the seventh burn of this type conducted over the past 18 months.

The burn was planned and conducted (as were the previous burns) in accordance with the relevant procedures and prescriptions. These procedures (South Australia Prescribed Burning Code of Practice) and prescriptions (Burning Prescriptions for South Australia) have been developed jointly with other fire agencies in SA (in particular SA Country Fire Service (CFS), Forestry SA and the Bureau of Meteorology) and endorsed by the SA Government Agencies Fire Liaison Committee

The weather conditions on Thursday, 6 and Friday, 7 September 2007 were drier and windier than predicted, causing the burn to reignite and spread into the adjoining area that was already approved for burning later in the year. The decision was made by the DEH burn incident controller, in consultation with the DEH state co-ordinator and local CFS officers, to allow the fire to continue to burn, with DEH and CFS crews monitoring and managing the situation.

The total area burnt during the fire was approximately 1,000 hectares. Some minor damage to signs and roadside posts occurred and two vehicles suffered minor paint damage.

DEH conducts a debrief of staff and operational review of all bushfire incidents and prescribed burns its staff attends as a matter of course to ensure procedures remain appropriate and to make necessary improvements to the conduct of future bushfire and prescribed burn operations. In line with this policy, a review of the Yacca Flat prescribed burn will occur.

2. I have been advised that current burning guidelines do not need reviewing as a result of this fire. These guidelines have been agreed to by the government agencies that make up the SA Government Fire Liaison Committee (committee representatives are from DEH, CFS, Forestry SA, SA Water and other relevant agencies). The total damage caused has been estimated at $6,260.

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