State Government a ‘better neighbour’ after bushfires
THE boss of long-standing timber company Hurford Hardwood says while the State Government has "stepped-up" in helping prevent bushfires, he wants such issues dealt with before fires start, not after.
Director Andrew Hurford, who is also chairman of Timber NSW said the Northern Rivers company lost many kilometres of fencing along plantations which were adjacent to state and federal land, after the Myall Creek Road bushfire devastated the area in November.
At the time, he slammed the government for not undertaking its responsibilities, such as clearing their side of a joint fence line, to ensure its properties did not impact on neighbouring properties, calling them "the worst neighbour to have during a bushfire".
Mr Hurford yesterday hosted Lismore MP Janelle Saffin and NSW Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully on a tour of his 280-hectare spotted gum plantation near Ellangowan, in which 15 per cent was ravaged by fire.
Thre, he shared the good news that not only was regrowth beginning in most of the burnt-out areas, National Parks and Wildlife were addressing the company's firebreak land management and fencing issue.
"They are being very helpful and are looking to assist us to repair the damage or replace the fence and establish a decent firebreak on the back boundary between us.
"It will be a great improvement," Mr Hurford said.
But he reiterated it would be better if the government addressed such issues ahead of a bushfire event.
"If we expect our public land managers to look after these boundaries and fences, they obviously need an adequate budget to be able to deal with that, whether its crown land or state forest or national park - it's just an expectation that jointly, with your neighbour, you will deal with fence line issues. Usually fifty-fifty.
"You just can't have your neighbour saying not only are we not going to help manage the fire risk in terms of a proper firebreak, but we are also going to not assist you with the damage to the fence once that fire occurs."
Ms Saffin and Mr Scully echoed Mr Hurford's sentiments in wanting to see the government better prepare for such events
"These are some of the issues we are seeing from the very real impact and consequences of significant budget cuts and staff cuts to National Parks," Mr Scully said.
"These are the sorts of issues that NSW Labour want to see given an airing and being discussed as part of the bushfire inquiry
"We are saying that the bush fire inquiry should be travelling to regional areas not just taking submissions who is sitting in Sydney."
Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro has been approached for comment.