Wollondilly MP welcomes $192 million fund in response to Bushfire Inquiry findings

The NSW Bushfire Inquiry recently found that more work needed to be done to prevent another major bushfire disaster.

The inquiry was launched after devastating fires ripped through the state late last year and into the early months of 2020 with findings released last month.

In response to these findings the NSW Government has announced a $192 million fund to purchase new equipment for firefighters, invest in night-time aerial firefighting, enhance strategic fire trails, improve local emergency infrastructure and more.

The funding initiatives are expected to be delivered over the next five years.

Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith said this package was just the beginning of the state government's response to the inquiry.

"These initiatives will fund crucial equipment that will keep our community safe, as well as funding jobs in areas at risk from fire," Mr Smith said.

The Green Wattle Creek bushfire damaged or destroyed more than 30 homes in Wollondilly earlier this year.

The inquiry found that it was one of the largest and most damaging fires in the 2019/20 season, alongside the Gospers Mountain, Dunns Road, Badja and Currowan fires - all of which were started by lightning.

The report also said that climate change "as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions clearly played a role in the conditions that led up to the fires and in the unrelenting conditions that supported the fires to spread".

However, the report said several other factors, including dryness, weather and difficult terrain, also contributed to the size of the fires.

"The 2019/20 bushfire season was extreme, and extremely unusual," the report said.

"It showed us bushfires through forested regions on a scale that we have not seen in Australia in recorded history, and fire behaviour that took even experienced firefighters by surprise.

"And it is clear that we should expect fire seasons like 2019/20, or potentially worse, to happen again."

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funds announced today demonstrate the NSW Government's ongoing commitment to protecting the people of NSW.

"Last season's bushfires had a devastating effect on the whole of NSW and this funding will go a long way in ensuring we never see the same impact again," Mr Perrottet said.

Police and emergency services minister David Elliott said the $192 million will be allocated to protecting lives, property and supporting emergency management personnel.

"We are committed to continuing to protect the people of NSW and are funding a range of initiatives to support frontline firefighters, extending hazard reduction works, as well delivering better equipment, and support for the natural environment," Mr Elliott said.

"We worked closely with frontline agencies to identify priorities to address key recommendations arising from the Inquiry. There is no length we won't go to safeguard communities from disaster."

The package of bushfire inquiry initiatives, worth $192.2 million over five years, includes:

  • $36 million for a new first responder mental health strategy for emergency services
  • $23 million in additional personal protective clothing for frontline firefighters
  • $17 million to retrofit NSW RFS and NPWS vehicles and replace FRNSW tankers
  • $8.3 million extension of an integrated dispatch system for the NSW RFS
  • $9.5 million to fund initial priority works for the fire trail network
  • $5.4 million enhancements to the RFS aerial fleet and training facilities
  • $2.5 million improvements to NSW RFS's Fires Near Me app
  • $2.85 million to deliver critical equipment for 31 multi-agency Emergency Operations Centres

Mr Smith confirmed further measures to address the inquiry's recommendations would be considered as a part of future budget processes.