The Victorian Coalition Government today acknowledged the contribution of the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) Chief Fire Officer Ewan Waller who has announced he will not seek to renew his contract when it expires later this year.
Acting Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan and Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith have acknowledged the instrumental role played by Mr Waller in the Coalition Government’s commitment to boosting the state’s fire management and prevention capability.
Mr Smith said Mr Waller had led the increase in planned burning as recommended by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
“Ewan’s 40 years of expertise in forestry, land management and fire were a solid backbone for his significant contribution to the department’s fire operations,” Mr Smith said.
“Ewan has led the DSE planned burning team to achieve the largest program of planned burning in more than two decades. In the past 12 months more than 197,000 hectares of burns have been completed – more than any other year since 1991.
“As announced earlier this year in the Budget, the Coalition Government provided an additional $35.1 million for the 2012-13 year alone to scale up the program by 25 per cent to 250,000 hectares.
“As part of a total $353 million to be invested in fire and land management this coming year, we are well positioned to meet the Royal Commission’s target.
“I thank Ewan for his leadership and professionalism and wish him well for his future endeavours,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Ryan acknowledged Mr Waller’s dedication to leading and delivering critical fire prevention work following the worst fires in Victoria’s history.
“Ewan’s decision to stay on after the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires is a demonstration of his commitment to the implementation of the Bushfire Royal Commission’s recommendations,” Mr Ryan said.
“The 2009 fires, and subsequent Royal Commission was a challenging time for everyone involved, and the lessons learned will put Victoria in a much better position to respond to future fires.”