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Broadmarsh fire investigation must be made public to assure community safety

  • Community confirms contractor called wrong council and after the fact
  • Findings of investigation must be made public
  • Communities must be given assurances that safety will always come first

An investigation into a Broadmarsh fire sparked by a subcontract to TasNetworks irresponsible use of explosives needs to be made public so communities can be assured similar mistakes will never be made again.

Shadow Energy Minister David O’Byrne said legitimate questions about the January 11 fire that burned through about six hectares of bush after explosives were used by a contractor to excavate rocks were left largely unanswered at a public meeting attended by TasNetworks executives last night.

“Serious mistakes were obviously made and this is a community that has a right to answers,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“It’s taken the community to discover that the contractor contacted the wrong council – Brighton rather than Southern Midlands – and then only after the damage was done, an hour after the fire was started.

“Four senior TasNetworks staff who attended yesterday’s meeting  – including the CEO and the general manager of the works program – have given the Broadmarsh community an undertaking that a thorough investigation is ongoing but considering questions remain unanswered, that report must be made public. That’s particularly important considering the investigation is not independent but is being carried out internally by TasNetworks.

“And while those executives have given the community an undertaking that explosives will no longer be used on total fire ban days, it’s important they tell Tasmanians what immediate measures are being undertaken to supervise and manage the work of sub-contractors on a daily basis.

“TasNetworks claims safety is its first priority but if that is the case, how can it be that a contractor was permitted to use explosives in bushland on a total fire ban day?

“TasNetworks, as part of this investigation, needs to explain how the conduct of its contractor placed a community in danger and diverted firefighting resources at a time of maximum bushfire risk.

“As a state-owned business it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure best practice is being undertaken.”

David O’Byrne MP
Shadow Minister for Energy