Bushfire recovery supporting local jobs

Minister for Parks

Bushfire recovery supporting local jobs

28 October 2021

Following the devastating 2018-19 summer bushfires, infrastructure recovery works undertaken by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service funded by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments have been a key economic driver across a range of sectors in regional and remote areas including construction, transport, retail and have supported an estimated 39 full-time jobs.

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service identified the need to rebuild and repair over 117 kilometres of walking tracks, 119 kilometres of roads, many bridges and other assets which had been damaged or destroyed during the bushfires.

Jointly funded by the Tasmanian and the Federal Government’s Community Recovery Fund, this $8.3 million reconstruction program has worked with 24 Tasmanian businesses who supplied materials including treated timber, metal plates, chicken wire, bugle screws, gravel, fibre-reinforced polymer sheeting and tent platforms.

I’d also like to acknowledge the PWS employees and transport operators who have been a critical link in our supply chain, ensuring the delivery of these materials to the remote track work teams in the TWWHA in Tassie’s infamous “four seasons in one day” weather.

This includes delivering over 5000 metres of timber planking, 20 bridges, and approximately 4000 steps and 400 water bars to the three teams completing the rebuild of the Lake Judd and Mt Anne tracks.

In the two years since the bushfires, a number of iconic tracks in the fire affected areas have already reopened including Lake Rhona and Farmhouse Creek, with the much anticipated Mt Anne Circuit due to reopen soon.

The Eastern Arthur Range Traverse – between Hanging Lake and Cracroft Plains – and the Western Arthur Range Traverse north/east of West Portal are undergoing critical works, and are expected to reopen in autumn next year.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government’s investment in restoring the infrastructure of some of our most iconic remote area bushwalks following these devastating bushfires is a clear demonstration of our support for our regional communities, local businesses and local jobs.

Building the new Sorell Emergency Services Hub

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management 

Building the new Sorell Emergency Services Hub

21 October 2021

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is delivering on its commitment to build contemporary and fit-for-purpose facilities for our police and emergency services, as part of our plan to keep Tasmanians safe.

Tasmanian company Fairbrother Pty Ltd has been awarded the contract to build the Emergency Services Hub at Sorell, following a recent request for tender process.

Located in Sorell on a greenfield site at 47 Cole St, this $12 million project will accommodate Tasmania Police, Tasmania Fire Service and the State Emergency Service in one central location for the South East region.

I’m pleased to note that this exciting development represents the first in Tasmania to accommodate these key services within a shared purpose-built complex.

As the South East region, and Sorell in particular, is one of Tasmania’s fastest growing areas, this project will provide the community with bolstered emergency services capability now and into the future.

The site itself is ideal for shared emergency services purposes, as it is centrally located and provides plenty of space and easy access for emergency response vehicles and personnel.

I would like to thank the Sorell Council for providing the land to support this important community facility, which will sit alongside other community services, including the Sorell Council Chambers, the health centre, the RSL, the Lions Club and the men’s shed.

The Sorell Emergency Services Hub is scheduled for completion in December 2022.

PFAS Blood Testing Program announced for Tasmania Fire Service

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management

PFAS Blood Testing Program announced for Tasmania Fire Service

16 October 2021

The Tasmanian Government welcomes the announcement of the Chief Officer, that the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) will initiate a voluntary PFAS Blood Testing Program.

The TFS will develop an implementation plan for the Blood Testing Program which will be led by the Deputy Chief Officer.

The implementation plan will be developed in conjunction with staff and volunteer representative groups, including unions and volunteer associations.

The management of PFAS is a priority for the Tasmanian Government, and while we recognise that the current national health advice is that PFAS blood tests have no diagnostic or prognostic value, we know that our firefighters want to have the option of blood testing to understand the levels of PFAS in their blood.

Implementing blood testing is another measure to prioritise the health, well-being, and safety of our firefighters. Importantly, the Government has already transitioned away from the use of PFAS foams and, together with the TFS, we’ll continue to work with environmental consultants who provide expert advice, undertake ongoing testing and determine remediation strategies.

Search is on for new Tasmanian Wilderness Rangers

Minister for Parks

Search is on for new Tasmanian Wilderness Rangers

16 October 2021

The Tasmanian Government is looking for new Wilderness Rangers to help protect our National Parks and improve the visitor experience for walkers.

A recruitment campaign is underway by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service to employ rangers who will provide education and advice to walkers on some of our State’s most remote multi-day walks within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area this summer.

The Wilderness Rangers, previously known as Track Rangers, will play an important role in keeping the walking community safe as well as enriching the overall visitor experience.

The rangers will be based in remote locations throughout the TWWHA, including Lake Rhona and the Walls of Jerusalem, along with soon-to-be-reopened overnight walking tracks at Mt Anne Circuit, Eastern Arthurs, and Western Arthurs.

The Wilderness Ranger program has been expanded this year to enhance walker safety and knowledge, particularly around Leave No Trace principles.

Additionally, the rangers will share the natural and cultural heritage values of these irreplaceable wilderness areas with walkers.

They will also help visitors understand why a voluntary overnight walker registration system is now in place to protect these fragile remote bushwalking environments.

The rangers will be deployed on more walks and for longer during the peak walking season to ensure full coverage on these remote walks.

In recent years, rangers have identified that some walkers are unaware of Leave No Trace principles, which can lead to impacts on vegetation, new campsites being formed, trail braiding (which creates a path next to a designated trail due to people walking off track) and inappropriate toileting.

With unprecedented demand for Tasmania’s National Parks and Reserves, even during COVID-19, the team of Wilderness Rangers will be out in the field and ready to greet and assist walkers during the peak walking season from December 2021 to April 2022.

More information about the Wilderness Ranger program can be found online at: www.jobs.tas.gov.au

Volunteers help preserve Maria Island convict buildings

Minister for Parks

Volunteers help preserve Maria Island convict buildings

12 October 2021

The Tasmanian Government highly values our built heritage and appreciates the hard work of volunteers and Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife staff in maintaining these buildings.

In a joint effort, volunteers worked alongside PWS staff within the Darlington precinct on Maria Island National Park to limewash the 1825-1850s buildings as part of ongoing maintenance work.

Limewash is often used as a decorative finish and is the basis of mortars, plasters and renders for older buildings in Tasmania. Specific directions on limewash and lime slaking were followed by the group.

Maria Island National Park is a special place for Tasmanians and visitors alike, with the location having the unique combination of nature and history.

The contributions from PWS volunteers at Maria Island National Park and across our parks and reserves in Tasmania provides assistance in the protection and conservation of our National Parks.

Thank you to all of the volunteers and staff who were involved in this five-day effort to ensure these beautiful historic buildings are maintained for visitors to explore.

I encourage visitors and Tasmanians to visit Maria Island National Park and be sure to visit the newly transformed convict buildings while you are there.

For more information about Maria Island National Park visit the PWS website:  https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/maria-island-national-park

Delivering on our commitment to review the Fire Service Act 1979

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management

Delivering on our commitment to review the Fire Service Act 1979

12 October 2021

As part of the Tasmanian Liberal Government’s plan to keep Tasmanians safe, we recently commenced consultation on the development of a new contemporary Fire Service Act 1979.

The consultation includes the release of the Review of the current Act which was undertaken by Mr Mike Blake (the Blake Fire Service Act Review).

Today we are releasing the Department of Treasury and Finance Options Paper (the Options Paper) that relates to the 16 Financial Management Recommendations that are outlined in the Blake Fire Service Act Review.

The Tasmanian Government wants to ensure that fire and emergency services in Tasmania are funded in an equitable, transparent, and sustainable way which is why we are now inviting Tasmanians to review the Options Paper and to have their say on potential future funding models.

To allow all Tasmanians to review both documents in detail and to make submissions, we are extending the consultation period for the Blake Fire Service Act Review and the Treasury Options Paper to Monday 6 December 2021.

As previously announced, Mr Michael Stevens, an experienced policy professional who undertook the role of Bushfire Recovery Coordinator for the devastating Bushfires in 2013 and 2019, is leading the next stage of this important body of work.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government will continue to deliver on our commitment to keeping Tasmanians safe, and we will continue to invest to ensure bushfire safety and prevention.

The consultation documents can be found at www.dpfem.tas.gov.au

Time to remember our officers who have fallen in the line of duty

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services

Time to remember our officers who have fallen in the line of duty

29 September 2021

Tasmania Police are committed to protecting the community every day and often have to put themselves in challenging and dangerous situations to perform their duties.

Today is National Police Remembrance Day and ceremonies will be held in Tasmania and around the country to honour officers who have fallen in the line of duty.

Tasmania is a safer place because of our brave men and women at Tasmania Police and we stand in solidarity to honour the brave officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our community.

The Tasmanian Government is proud to support our police force and all Tasmanians are urged to take a moment today to appreciate and recognise the vital and often dangerous, work they do to keep us all safe.

Call to help protect vital shorebird habitat during breeding season

Minister for Parks

Call to help protect vital shorebird habitat during breeding season

29 September 2021

The Tasmanian Government is supporting calls from Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service to urge the beach-going community to help protect shorebirds during breeding season.

Beaches across Tasmania provide year-round habitat for a range of birds. Sadly, many of these birds are declining in numbers and are now threatened species, so providing them with the space to share our beaches is critical for their survival.

It is important to be aware of these vulnerable birds in the environment and to avoid disturbing them as much as possible at this critical time of their life cycle.

Breeding shorebirds lay well camouflaged eggs on dry sand in shallow nests called scrapes. Newly hatched chicks can’t fly and for up to a month can only run until they grow flight feathers.

Beach-goers can help protect this habitat by following some simple practices, such as walking only on the wet sand away from breeding areas, being cautious about bringing dogs onto a beach, making sure to follow signage about dog walking areas and keeping dogs away from dry sand areas. Taking vehicles onto beaches should also be avoided to minimise nest disturbance.

Education blitzes in recent years have seen success in places such as the Scamander River mouth Bird Sanctuary area, which is now a safe breeding zone for Little Terns, Fairy Terns, Hooded Plovers, Pied Oystercatchers and Red-capped Plovers.

The PWS will also team up with local councils to ensure people are doing the right thing. Beach-goers are reminded to check their local council website for information on where they can exercise dogs and what limits may apply.

Cultural Burning Program provides valuable insights

Minister for Parks and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services

Cultural Burning Program provides valuable insights

28 September 2021

The Tasmanian Liberal Government recognises that Aboriginal cultural burning practices, undertaken for tens of thousands of years, have helped to shape the Tasmanian landscape that we know today.

Today I was privileged to attend a Cultural Burning Workshop that was undertaken by the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation.  This workshop was an educational exercise, which was also attended by members of the Tasmania Fire Service and the Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Tasmanian community can greatly learn from Tasmanian Aboriginal people as a result of their deep connection with our land and landscape, including sophisticated land management practices such as cool burning and the important part this has played in Tasmania’s culture and history.

The TFS has responsibility for the state-wide Fuel Reduction Program, and today’s event is assisting to educate TFS personnel in Aboriginal cultural burning practices.

As part of the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to cultural burning in Tasmania, the Parks and Wildlife Service has employed three new Aboriginal cultural burning specialists including an Aboriginal Burning Project Officer, to support the development of policy and management of the program along with two specialist Aboriginal Fire Rangers to work with communities to identify potential cultural burn sites.

Recently, Parks and Wildlife Service Aboriginal Fire Rangers undertook the first cultural burn as part of this program at Dempster Plains in Tasmania’s remote North West. 

In addition, to the new Aboriginal Fire Ranger employee roles, the Government also committed $100,000 in grant funding to ensure the success and delivery of this important program.

The Cultural Burning Grant Funding is to support burning related activities, with funds going towards the provision of equipment, the cost of travel to attend burn locations, along with funding to support cultural burning training.

Ten grant applications of a maximum of $10,000 each have been approved to:

·   The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, who were successful in securing 3 grants;

·   The Karadi Aboriginal Corporation, securing 2 grants;

·     The melythina tiakana warrana Aboriginal Corporation, with 1 grant;

·    The South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation securing 2 grants; and

·   The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre with 2 grants.

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service is also working closely with Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania to collaborate with Aboriginal fire practitioners and Tasmanian Aboriginal people to develop a PWS Cultural Burning Policy for Tasmania.

We recognise the rich cultural and environmental understanding of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the importance of re-establishing cultural burning practices in Tasmania as part of our overall fire management strategy. The Cultural Burning Program is a first for Tasmania and the Government will ensure collaboration and continuing engagement with Tasmanian Aboriginal people to deliver cultural land management practices as a pathway towards achieving joint land management.

Remote Area Firefighters undertake training in preparation for bushfire season

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management

Remote Area Firefighters undertake training in preparation for bushfire season

25 September 2021

This weekend the Tasmania Fire Service is undertaking a training program for our career and volunteer remote area firefighters to ensure that they are upskilled and ready for the upcoming Bushfire Season.

Remote Area Firefighters are trained to fight fires in remote and inaccessible environments that are not accessible by fire appliances.

The firefighters will take part in training of remote area safety systems, bushfire fighting and how to use specialist firefighting equipment like firefighting pumps and hoses.

This Government introduced the Volunteer Remote Area Firefighting Program in 2018, and has provided $2.3 million to support the TFS with management, training and equipment to develop its volunteer and career remote firefighting capability. By the end of October this year, we will have in excess of 140 trained remote area firefighters.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is taking action to keep Tasmanians safe, and we will continue to invest to ensure bushfire safety and prevention.