Veteran fire fighter and volunteer brigade captain Val Jeffery wants to break the record for most signatures on a petition presented to Federal Parliament (record currently 792,285) and, more importantly, force a Royal Commission.
Jeffery and many others are frustrated over the handling of the Coronial Inquiry into the Canberra bushfires which was suspended last October. Coroner Maria Doogan is now fighting against her disqualification in the Supreme Court – an action that was brought by nine ACT bureaucrats and x-bureacrats whose legals costs are being paid by the ACT government.
Firefighters and bushfire experts say she was getting too close to the truth.
Val Jeffery has emailed:
“In January 2003, disastrous bush fires raged from the Queensland border to Bass Straight costing Australia billions of dollars in damages, many lives, hundreds of horrendous injuries, burnt out suburbs in our national capital, millions of hectares of grazing and parkland, destruction of stock and the extinction of species of native wild life, carbon and sludge silting of our water catchments as well as immeasurable trauma etc.
The damage from bush fires has escalated dramatically in Australia over the past decade or so and this escalation has ran in parallel with cultural change in attitude to fuel and suppression management at Australia’s expense. Our society can no longer continue to sustain this escalation in property and human cost.
Several inquiries initiated before and after the January 2003 bush fire disasters have failed miserably to come to grips with the problem as the same old excuses have been regurgitated. The final straw is the ACT Government’s interference in the Canberra Coronial which was at last appearing to come to terms with the need for accountability and responsibility. That interference is also a grave threat to the basic structure of democracy, the separation of Government and the Judiciary.
It is time for the Federal Parliament to establish as a matter of urgency a Royal Commission to come up with the answers. The next wild fire disaster is just around the corner.
Go to the web site at www.bushfires.net and download the petition.”
Farmer, goat cheese maker, and IPA colleague Jim Hoggett (with son Aled) have written a backgrounder ‘When will we ever learn?’ on the 2003 bushfires.