The Minister for Emergency Services has failed to answer simple questions over how funding within his portfolio is being used to protect regional towns from bushfire.
During Budget estimates at State Parliament this week, the Minister could not explain how $5.8 million of Royalties for Regions was being spent despite the cash being specifically linked to bushfire mitigation.
Emergency services spokesperson Colin de Grussa said having the Minister who is in charge of protecting communities from bushfire not knowing his mitigation plan or spend was “troubling, to put it mildly”.
“The amount in question is not insignificant and when asked what it was for the Minister could not accurately explain how it would be used to help keep regional communities safe,” he said.
“My understanding is the funding, rolled out by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, should be used specifically to assist mitigation activities on crown land in and near regional town sites.
“Minister Logan was not aware if it was his responsibility or where the money came from.”
Similar questions asked of the Minister for Lands during estimates earlier this week pointed to DFES being responsible for how the funding was rolled out.
Warren-Blackwood MP Terry Redman said it was “ridiculous” the man tasked with protecting regional communities from bushfire did not know what he was doing with almost $6 million.
“Earlier this year we had to battle the Environment Minister to reinstate the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program he cut in 2017, which records show has made tremendous in-roads to the backlog of prescribed burning in our national parks and State forests,” Mr Redman said.
“Now we have an Emergency Services Minister that can’t paint a clear picture of the funding resource available to his department to carry out bushfire mitigation planning and activities in regional areas.
“It seems ridiculous the Minister in charge of this portfolio does not have a firm grasp on what taxpayer money is at his disposal to ensure the highest level of safety possible for communities that carry significant bushfire risk.”
Mr Redman said The Nationals WA would be monitoring DFES to ensure the funding was used as intended.
“It hard to trust the McGowan Government is using Royalties for Regions funding for the right reasons, so we’re putting the Minister on notice to ensure this allocation is spent on reducing bushfire risk for regional towns and communities,” he said.