My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response, and it is in regard to emergency services communications. I take this opportunity to say that whilst my adjournment matter this evening is about my electorate, I want to acknowledge that there are fires still raging in other parts of the state. I thank those who are involved: the emergency services personnel, the firefighters and all of the support staff who are waging wars against those blazes.
Getting back to western Victoria, in January this year there were two major fires, one west of Ballarat and the other west of Portland, which threatened a number of local communities. West of Ballarat, hundreds of residents in small communities such as Chepstowe, Snake Valley and Carngham had to flee as fire destroyed the historic Carngham station and nine family homes.
Six people were treated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation; however, fortunately, no-one lost their life.
West of Portland, 20 campers were evacuated from the Great South West Walk because of a very large fire which blackened about 7000 hectares of native forest, pine and blue gum plantations between Portland and Dartmoor and through to the South Australian border. The communities of Drik Drik, Mumbannar and those along the Princes Highway, such as Lyons and Greenwald, were alerted; however, thankfully the fire did not reach those communities. Due to the dedication and hard work of Country Fire Authority and Department of Sustainability and Environment officers and volunteers there were only minor injuries as a result of those fires.
More than 200 people packed into the Snake Valley community hall to learn the full extent of the damage done west of Ballarat.
During this meeting a number of people made comments and complaints about the communication services at the height of the fire, some stating that they were left in communication black holes. The action I seek from the minister this evening is for him to advise me of the most recent audit conducted in respect of emergency services communication facilities and their effectiveness during the height of emergency situations and in particular what happened during the fires in Chepstowe, Snake Valley and Carngham. If there has not been a recent audit, why not, when will it happen and what will the action plan entail?