Landowner calls for cultural shift in bushfire prevention as government adopts bushfire inquiry recommendations

Final report: The state government says it will accept all 76 recommendations from the bushfire inquiry.
Final report: The state government says it will accept all 76 recommendations from the bushfire inquiry.

The NSW bushfire inquiry report has received a mixed reaction from landowners in the Port Macquarie-Hastings.

The final report was handed down in late July and released on Tuesday, August 25.

One of the key recommendations will see landowners obliged to conduct more hazard-reduction burns on their properties and taking a more active role in bushfire prevention.

Hazard-reduction burns will also be increased where there is close proximity to endangered communities.

Rollands Plains Community Group spokesperson Neil Jones welcomed the "attention taken up by the bushfire inquiry".

He warned that fire management practices have to change and those changes maintained. "We actually need a cultural shift," he said.

However, he says, one key area of funding was missing from the final report.

"What is missing is more funding for National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forests NSW to employ people on the ground to maintain these fire breaks, once established," he said.

"They talk about hazard reduction burns but they don't provide the necessary experienced staff to conduct these fire breaks.

Mr Jones said National Parks had lost experienced rangers through early retirement or through earlier [state government] cut backs.

He also acknowledged the increase in hazard reductions in national parks and supported the emphasis on increased water bombing.

He hopes aboriginal cultural burning is part of the fire risk management practices "moving forward".

"The RFS should be on the ground when a hazard reduction burn is being undertaken.

Bellangry landowner Darren Sage, who lost his family home in the February 2020 bushfires, remains convinced he could have saved his home.

"If I was allowed to undertake hazard reduction burns, without a doubt, my home would still be standing."

"If this inquiry gives me more control over what I can burn it is going to help.