Bushfire Death Trap

The Eltham Gateway

A letterbox drop was delivered to every house in the approximately 500 hectare higher extreme bushfire risk parts of the Eltham Gateway area, on Wednesday March 13, 2013.
The delivery is a 28 page Paper called Bushfire Death Trap – The Eltham Gateway.

Written by Tim Malseed and bushfire expert David Packham, the Paper warns of the risk of extreme bushfire to fellow residents trapped by the Yarra River. The Paper contains 12 recommendations about how the Victorian Government can mitigate that risk.

The recommendations are heavy on Government leadership, and light on taxpayer funds.

The Paper has keyword links to additional documents highlighted in blue. Download the Paper in PDF or from iTunes or Barnes&Noble.



Bushfire Death Trap – The Eltham Gateway in the news and reviews


Australian Government et-al Warning Video – Don’t Wait and See

“Prime Minister bears ultimate responsibility” (Quadrant Online A Burning issue for the PM  9/1/16, David Packham & Tim Malseed)
The Quadrant Online article, A Burning Issue for the PM, focused on the responsibility of politicians for extreme bushfires.
Firstly, the article states that extreme bushfire “…mismanagement verges on the culpable”, and then explains how the system used to work before “…politics intervened…”.
Secondly, having established that extreme bushfires are made worse by “…a series of deliberate political actions”, the article drives home the concept that politicians are largely responsible for extreme bushfires in Australia, and “…that the Prime Minister bears ultimate responsibility”.
Finally, the article provides an upside with “…political actions and the infernos they bought can be reversed…”.

Media Release

4 August 2016

Accountability for extreme bushfire deaths

Prime Minister Turnbull’s 18 March 2016 letter to Firestick Estate suggests he accepts in principal, his fiduciary duties to future victims of extreme bushfires.

With the PM’s apparent acceptance of responsibility, the question about who is accountable for future deaths from extreme bushfires becomes clearer. The Prime Minister’s letter says the States have primary responsibility, which is reasonable if the job is being done properly. However, with prescribed burning in Victoria, we believe the job is disastrously inadequate, at least in the Eltham Gateway. If correct, accountability must go to the Prime Minister under his fiduciary duties as the manager of disaster grants.

Prescribed burning saves lives and environmental destruction. A destruction that has already occurred on Black Saturday and a few years earlier in much of Victoria’s high country (Catalyst, 3 June 2014). Australian governments’ have repeatedly ignored warnings to reduce extreme bushfire fuels, at the cost of people’s lives. Some of those warnings are:

  • 1939, Black Friday Royal Commission warned controlled burning “… as ridiculously inadequate”;

  • 1983, Ash Wednesday Bushfire Review Committee warned “…the amount of fuel reduction burning was too low”;

  • 1992, Auditor General warned “… the failure of the (Government left us) … more susceptible to the occurrence of fires”;

  • 1994, CSIRO Chief Fire Expert warned about a “… decline in the area prescribed burnt for fuel”;

  • 2003, Federal Parliamentary Report warned “… grossly inadequate hazard reduction burning on public lands”;

  • 2007, Parliamentary Committee warned “… increase its annual prescribed burning target … (to) … 5 per cent of public land”;

  • 2010, Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission “… prescribed burning strategically …to maximise risk reduction … of 5 to 8 per cent … is necessary for community safety …”

The destructive consequences of Governments not acting on their own expert warnings to reduce fuel was seen in just one of the fuel driven fires on Black Saturday. The Kilmore East fire had an area burned of about 10 hectares per second, averaged over one hour (35,802 hectares per hour divided by 3600 seconds in an hour equals 9.945 hectares per second). That is equal to an area the size of Canberra’s Black Mountain Nature Reserve burning in 45 seconds, Perth’s Kings Park in 40 seconds, Hobart’s Queens Domain in 20 seconds, Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens in less than 4 seconds, Brisbane City Botanic Gardens or Sydney’s Hyde Park in 2 seconds and Adelaide’s Pioneer Woman’s Memorial Gardens burning in less than one second. At that rate of spread the prospect of hundreds, if not thousands of lives lost, is so predictable that we believe not one bushfire expert has refuted this death risk quantum since it was first publicly raised by a former State Premier.

In a letter to Prime Minister Turnbull of 4 August 2016, Firestick Estate looks at a Victorian Government map of prescribed burning in the Eltham Gateway area over the last ten years. We believe the disastrously inadequate performance shown could lead to Prime Minister Turnbull facing charges of involuntary manslaughter through negligence, following deaths by extreme bushfire in the Eltham Gateway and possibly other parts of Victoria.

Belinda Clarkson (Secretary)

Firestick Estate Inc.

Media Release

18 April 2016

Since November 2014 eight letters have been sent to Prime Ministers Abbott and Turnbull, questioning why extreme bushfire official warnings are apparently based on 9km/h and not 24km/h. Our advice is the 9km/h basis will ” … render the … warning system ineffective”. The letters contained advice from three of Australia’s most respected extreme bushfire experts and referred recipients to the Australian Government et-al video (Don’t Wait and See).-

The advice and video point to a predictable tragedy and Firestick Estate believes the Prime Minister’s recent letter effectively confirms that predictable tragedy will not be avoided (PM’s letter 18/3/16).

It is clear the Prime Minister has the power to prevent this predictable extreme bushfire tragedy, by using a commensurate level of responsibility. The 80 plus acknowledgements and responses to our letters indicate political leaders of Federal, State and Territory Governments, have received our letters about this predictable tragedy (List of acknowledgments).

For the many future victims of this predictable tragedy, demanding a charge of ” … involuntary manslaughter through negligence … ” by those responsible, is in our view an equally predictable outcome (Firestick Estate’s letter of 18/4/16).

Belinda Clarkson (Secretary)

Firestick Estate Inc.

Media Release

Explanation of letter to Prime Minister about extreme bushfire fuel in Australia

1 March 2016

Firestick Estate believes Australia’s growing bushfire fuels will lead to a disaster many times worse than Black Saturday (Quadrant Online 9/1/16).

During that fatal afternoon, 173 people and over one million animals were killed, and close to five billion dollars lost. An earlier than predicted wind change avoided the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of people and astronomical costs to the nation.

Bushfire disasters on this scale occur because of unmitigated forest fine fuels, entirely dictated by misinformed political policies. Prior to those misinformed political policies, large scale bushfire disasters were avoided by community driven prescribed burning, and historically, by traditional burning (The Biggest Estate on Earth-How Aborigines Made Australia, Bill Gammage 2013).

While politically motivated policies are killing people, animals and trees, politicians endorse further political policies that increase fuel. The responsibility for the deaths, trauma and costs are avoided with elaborate “whitewash (s) ” (Why were the Black Saturday guilty not named , Andrew Bolt 6/8/10).

In an effort to find politicians who will take responsibility, I have started at the bottom and worked my way up the political chain of command. From being a Local Government Councillor and Chairing a Statutory Fire Management Committee, to the Bushfires Royal Commission, the Minister for Bushfire Response, then the Minister for Planning and finally the Premier. I have carefully documented each step of this process, which demonstrates a failure of our political leadership, and possible culpability for the deaths of many people. When no politician was prepared to accept responsibility, as a last step I wrote to the Prime Minister (Extreme bushfire fuel in Australia, etc.).

Firestick Estate believe the responses received, continue the failure of political leadership on extreme bushfires. In the absence of anyone else lower down the political chain of command accepting responsibility, it leaves the Prime Minister in charge of unprecedented bushfire fuel levels and a “…future without resolve” (Prime Minister Kevin Rudd replied to the question without notice, February 2009 House of Representatives).

Belinda Clarkson (Secretary)

Firestick Estate Inc.

4 Felicia Rise, Diamond Creek, 3089