The Times’s editorial (December 30) contained some wise advice for property owners regarding fire management. It is a pity the law does not reflect that wisdom.
The McLeod Inquiry report on the 2003 bushfire recommended (R57) that property owners be allowed to remain and defend their property against fire, a sentiment reflected in your editorial.
Unfortunately, the Stanhope Government, with the support of the Opposition, ignored the recommendation and legislated power enabling the evacuation of residents, regardless of their desire to stay and defend their property (Emergencies Act 2004).
In making the provision a "strict liability offence", the Government also introduced the presumption of guilt for an offence under the Act.
The Government has not adequately explained why it disregarded the McLeod recommendation and the considered view of the Australasian Fire Authorities Council.
Lance Williamson, (Canberra Times letter)