Media Release Archives : March 2014

March 11, 2014

INQUIRY INTO FAILED FIRE REPONSE SHOULD EXAMINE WOOLDRIDGE’S FAILURE

Denis Napthine has finally announced an independent investigation into his Government’s failed emergency response in Morwell. The inquiry panel, headed by Bernard Teague, should examine the failure of Napthine Government Minister Mary Wooldridge to visit Morwell until 2 March, 2014 – almost a month after the fire began. In her role as Minister for Community Services, Ms Wooldridge should have been responsible for managing the emergency response, coordinating the relief effort and supporting the community. Quotes attributable to Ms Mikakos: “It was Mary Wooldridge’s job to manage the emergency response and support the community in Morwell, but she turned up almost a month late.” “What does it say about this dysfunctional Government when the Minister responsible for emergency relief doesn’t even bother to show up?” “Denis Napthine and Mary Wooldridge failed the emergency response and failed the people of the Latrobe Valley.” Key Facts

• The fire first started in the Hazelwood mine site on 9 February, 2014.
• The community health assessment centre and the respite centre were set up on 20 February, 2014 – nearly two weeks after the fire began.
• Some grants were available from the Department of Human Services from this time, but residents were largely unaware how to apply or if they qualified, and residents couldn’t apply at either centre mentioned above.
• These grants were expanded, along with an announcement that residents in the southern parts of Morwell were being ‘advised to move’ by the Police Chief Commissioner, Emergency Services Commissioner and the Chief Health Officer. This happened on 28 February, 2014 – a full three weeks after the fire began.
• The Minister first visited Morwell on 2 March, 2014 – nearly a month after the fire began.

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