Friday, November 27, 2009

indemnity for nsp’s - a state responsibility

report from the roundtable – 24 nov

I was appalled to learn of the need for a development of a Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan (NSPP) at this eleventh hour in the lead up to fire season (see blog). I was even more aghast to learn that the “Amending Act” the state government introduced to parliament this week would mean that liability for Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSP) would fall to local government once enacted.

I moved the following motion in response to the issue:

“That Council write to The Premier, the Honourable John Brumby MP, and The Treasurer, the Honourable John Lenders MP, with copies to our local MPs, requesting that the State Government provide ongoing indemnity to protect Local Government against any liability it may incur in relation to the use of a Designated Neighbourhood Safer Place by any individual when sheltering from bushfire.”

The liability for NSPs goes well beyond the scope of local government. When we think of a bushfire event it is a state emergency, not only the domain of local government. This liability has been imposed on local government without any consultation.

I have serious concerns about the term Neighbourhood Safer Places, they should be called Places of Last Resort which far more adequately reflects what they are. NSPs are places to go to when all else fails, when you fire plan is no longer effective, there is no guarantee you will survive, in fact you may well perish. Places of Last Resort is a term that far more adequately reflects the purpose of these sites.

Many in the community are regarding NSPs as a ‘fire refuge’, they should not have the word ‘safer’ within their title, it implies something that just isn’t so.

I think if we a genuinely serious about protecting life in the longer term we should be building purpose built facilities to protect our communities. NSPs do not fit the bill.

The onerous responsibility of liability is stark and the amending bill proposes where an NSP is on non council land, any liability for death or injury arising out of its use as an NSP during an actual or threatened bushfire, transfers instead to the relevant municipal council, the owner/occupier wont be liable but the council will be. Council will be liable for any death or injury of a person using an NSP as a shelter from bushfire too.

This is the worst form of cost shifting from state government to local government. This goes way beyond what any municipality should be responsible for. I hope that other municipalities who are at fire risk join with Yarra Ranges to urge the state government to rightfully take on liabilities for NSPs. It is a disgraceful turn of events.

I am pleased to say that the motion was supported unanimously.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker