on air now

Department inexperience led to Lancefield fire, says former staffer

A former CFA volunteer says the State government’s inexperience led to October’s bushfires in Lancefield.

But the Environment Minister has attempted to shift responsibility to the previous government’s budget cuts.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP) lost control of a planned burn near Lancefield in early October, resulting in more than 3100 hectares of land being destroyed.

Gordon Meyer, who worked at the Department of Sustainability and Environment – the precursor to DELWP – for 18 years, told Tom Elliott the department was dangerously inexperienced.

‘They’ve basically just stripped bare all the departments to the point where they can no longer conduct anything because they don’t have any experienced personnel on the ground,’ Mr Meyer said.

Tom asked if this means they’ve let go so many experienced people they don’t actually know what they’re doing anymore.

‘That’s about it, in a nutshell,’ Mr Meyer said. 

Click play to hear from the former firefighter

But Environment Minister Lisa Neville said inexperience is an ‘element’ of the problem.

‘The last government cut almost 900 staff from the department,’ Ms Neville said. 

‘You can’t cut 900 people from the department and not see that that has an effect.’

Ms Neville said only one person was responsible for the major decisions on the day, but refused to say whether they would lose their job as a result.

Click play to hear the Environment Minister speak to Tom Elliott