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Bushfire policy must be guided by science and is best left to the experts

Attempts to make Transport NSW slash 40m-wide strips of forest along every state highway in NSW shows why bushfire policy must be guided by science and expert advice, not ministerial decree. [1] 

“The directive to chainsaw 40m-wide strips along all the state highways in NSW would have been devastating for koalas and other wildlife,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“Buffers that big would have destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of forest when wildlife were at their most vulnerable after the devastating fires.

“Thankfully, we live in a democracy with checks and balances that set reasonable limits on the powers of ministers.”

Mr Gambian said the directive to Transport NSW was not just possibly unlawful, it was not supported by the Independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry the government established to recommend ways to improve public safety and bushfire preparedness.

“Even before the experts handed down their report, one minister thought he knew better,” Mr Gambian said.

“That was a knee-jerk reaction, which is terrible way to make good policy in this very complex area. 

“We should let the experts, not politicians, decide how we should best prepare for bushfires.

“The directive to clear 40m buffers was not based on science. It would have had very questionable benefits and was not recommended by the Independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry. 

“I acknowledge the Black Summer fires were extremely traumatic for those communities that lived through them. 

“But to get the best results, rational policy responses must be developed by experts who have looked at all the evidence.”

References

[1] Minister's tree-clearing direction prompted legal concerns, SMH, 10-3-21 

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