Bushfire inquiry calls rejected by Francis

Emergency services minister Joe Francis has rejected calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the Waroona/Yarloop bushfires.
Emergency services minister Joe Francis has rejected calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the Waroona/Yarloop bushfires.

EMERGENCY services minister Joe Francis on Monday rejected calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the bushfires that devastated Waroona and destroyed Yarloop earlier this month.

Waroona and Yarloop residents have demanded answers about the management of the bushfire, especially how fires declared “small and controllable” by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) on the morning they started flared into a natural disaster that resulted in deaths of two men and the loss of 162 homes.

Mr Francis told reporters an inquiry would be conducted by the government and an additional parliamentary inquiry would not uncover anything his inquiry would not.

"There's nothing that anyone won't say to an investigator outside of a parliamentary inquiry that they would say if they're subpoenaed to Parliament," he said.

However, Waroona farmer Ray Hull, who was organising a petition to have state parliament’s Legislative Council set up a full inquiry, said the inquiry he was proposing would be independent of government.

“It would be the people’s inquiry, it’s not Barnett’s inquiry, not the bureaucracy’s inquiry,” he said.

“People want to have their say; I have volunteer firefighters signing this petition and all I’m doing is providing the people with the platform and tools to have their say, just to be heard.

“We don’t need another bureaucratic government inquiry that will come up with the same answers again and again.”

Mr Hull said he was not looking for someone to blame, and denied he was looking for a silver bullet stop bushfires.

“We’re not having a shot at firies, but the system we’ve got is not working,” he said.

Shadow emergency services minister Margaret Quirk said the community was entitled to answers in a timely fashion.

“Many will be living with the trauma and distress for many months to come and they need some closure and understanding of what occurred,” she said.

“This is not about attributing blame, this is about getting answers.

“If volunteers or career firefighters need more resources, that’s what the government needs to hear.”

A spokesperson for DPAW said ground crews from Dwellingup arrived at the bushfires at 8:15am on January 6.

“Eight fire trucks, three light units, a front end loader, a bulldozer and four fixed wing water bombers were dispatched, and at 9.21am the Ericsson Air Crane was also dispatched,” she said.

“Both bushfires were attacked, with one bushfire suppressed at 6ha in size and the other bushfire overwhelming firefighting efforts on the steep upper (inaccessible) slopes of the Murray River valley.”