Bushfire hero Shane Fitzsimmons is ‘set to be dumped

Bushfire hero is ‘set to be dumped and his ENTIRE $1.4billion disaster agency dismantled’ after criticism over response to floods

  • Resilience NSW was set up in 2020 after 2019 bushfires ravaged the state
  • Premier Dominic Perrottet was opposed and will now reportedly scrap it 
  • The move would mean its boss Shane Fitzsimmons will be made redundant

Bushfire hero Shane Fitzsimmons is reportedly set to be dumped from is new role as Resilience NSW Commissioner.

Premier Dominic Perrottet is reportedly poised to scrap the entire agency which was set up in May 2020 following the 2019 bushfires.

The agency was considered the brainchild of former Premier Gladys Berejiklian and opposed by then Treasurer Mr Perrottet. 

Bushfire hero Shane Fitzsimmons is reportedly set to be dumped from is new role as Resilience NSW Commissioner

Bushfire hero Shane Fitzsimmons is reportedly set to be dumped from is new role as Resilience NSW Commissioner

A recent flood inquiry recommended it be dismantled after failing to deliver results for the state, with critics saying it was ‘missing in action’ during floods in March. 

There are also concerns about its cost, with the agency spending $38.6million on wages and almost $30million on operating costs. 

It was allocated $1.4billion in the latest budget, with most of the cash earmarked for flood relief grants. 

Mr Fitzsimmons was the Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service between September 2007 and April 2020. 

Devastating flooding in the state’s Northern Rivers and Hawkesbury Nepean region in February and March killed 13 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes.

Premier Perrottet launched an independent inquiry in March to learn from the disaster, saying in April he wanted ‘no holds barred’ feedback and did not care if it impacted his government.

An interim report was due on June 30, however a decision was made to scrap the interim report and bring forward the final report date to last Sunday, July 31.

Pictured: Floods at a Leeton property adjacent to the Hawkesbury River in Sydney

Pictured: Floods at a Leeton property adjacent to the Hawkesbury River in Sydney

NSW Labor have demanded the government publish the report’s findings, which were released to Mr Perrottet on Sunday, saying devastated communities have a right to know how to better prepare.

‘The government does not have a right to sit on this report until it is politically expedient for them to release it,’ opposition spokesman for the North Coast, Walt Secord, said on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the NSW government said the premier had the report and intended to release it soon.

‘The Premier received the final Flood Inquiry Report (Sunday morning) and he is currently reviewing it,’ the spokesperson said.

‘The government will consider the recommendations and release it as well as its response in the near future.’

The inquiry took submissions from impacted residents, emergency responders and organisations, and held public forums in flood-affected communities.

RFS volunteers and NSW Fire and Rescue officers fight a bushfire in southern NSW in December 2019

RFS volunteers and NSW Fire and Rescue officers fight a bushfire in southern NSW in December 2019

During one heated community meeting in Mullumbimby in June, locals lashed out at the response in their town, saying red tape forced them to make 10-kilometre treks to find people stranded by landslides.

Captain of the Byron Bay Rural Fire Service, John Brierley, said a lack of disaster planning prevented RFS members from outside Mullumbimby from assisting for five days.

The fire captain said disaster plans were available in every council except Byron Shire Council.

‘We’re going to have conversations about this and I hope that you open the doors for us because it will solve a lot of problems,’ he told the inquiry.

Meanwhile, some $47million worth of grants was announced for victims of the June and July floods, in the Back Home scheme, to be jointly funded by the state and federal governments.

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