THE fire season is just around the corner and the Member for Murray Plains has warned alarm bells should already be ringing because of roadside grass across his electorate – and northern Victoria.
Mr Walsh told Parliament this week VicRoads needed to urgently accelerate its roadside slashing program.
He said he could not see any evidence – anywhere – that VicRoads has done any slashing ahead of the fire season.
“There are dangerous fire conditions on the sides of VicRoads roads right across my electorate – and from where I have travelled in recent weeks, across much of Victoria there is no sign VicRoads is taking this early fire threat seriously,” Mr Walsh said.
“I’ve been along the Murray Valley Hwy, Northern Hwy and the Loddon Valley Hwy and more class B and class C roads I care to remember; and nothing convinces me VicRoads, or its master Roads and Road Safety Minister Ben Carroll, have done anything pre-emptive in my electorate,” he said.
“I have also been contacted by people with the same concerns – one email from a woman who had driven from Cohuna to Echuca mirrored my concerns.
“She said ‘we are horrified at the huge amount of dry wild oats lining the roadside. In places as high as our car’s windows. One cigarette causally discarded and all the farms will be destroyed. On a windy day a fire will roar across the plains. Come for a drive, it’s a disaster waiting to happen’.”
Mr Walsh said a woman from Dingee told him grass on the side of the road from Boort to Rochester is already 1m high and bone dry.
He said the woman told him she does not feel fire ready at all.
“She wants VicRoads or whoever is responsible – and it is VicRoads for this road – to ‘attend to it before disaster strikes’,” Mr Walsh added.
“On behalf of not just these people but all the people in regional and country Victoria; I would urge Minister Carroll to give VicRoads an absolute shake-up and tell them to get off their whatchamacallits and get out there and slash the roads to make sure the fire risk is actually reduced,” he said.
“In some parts of the state it is probably almost too late. They will need fire trucks at the same time because the grass has started to dry off, and we do not want to see them starting a fire when they are slashing.
“Please, Minister Carroll, give VicRoads a good kick in the you-know-what and get them out there slashing the sides of the roads before we have an absolute disaster this year with wildfire.”
Media contact – Andrew Mole (03) 5482 2039 firstname.lastname@example.org