The summer bushfire season was devastating to the whole of the Eden-Monaro electorate.
In the Bega Valley alone, four lives were lost in the fires that covered the region, as well as 466 houses.
In light of the fires the candidates for the Eden-Monaro by-election were asked to provide their policies for responding to future bushfire emergencies, and asked how the federal government could better assist the firefighting efforts of the states and territories.
Also, they were asked if they would fund cultural burning programs that follow the traditional practices of Australia's First Nations people, with these candidates clearly stating their agreement: Michael Balderstone, Riccardo Bosi, Cathy Griff, Trevor Hicks, James Jansson, Fiona Kotvojs and Karen Porter. Joy Angel said she would, "where evidence shows that this would support our fire prevention and fighting efforts" while Matthew Stadtmiller said yes "as apart of a broader solution".
Attempts were also made for comment from the Liberal Democrats' Dean McCrae and independent James Holgate.
Responses are presented in alphabetical order by last name.
Joy Angel, Sustainable Australia Party
"SAP supports strong action to address climate change, including more investment in renewable energy and the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. We would also introduce an environmental job guarantee, including environmental management jobs in regional Australia to better prepare for and fight bushfires. Further investment in large aerial tankers to fight fires when first spotted is also important.
"Apart from further investment in large aerial tankers to fight fires when first spotted, we can better fund communities through environment-focused job guarantee programs. Relying on volunteers will be increasingly difficult due to climate change, so current volunteers should be able to apply to transition to paid part-time job guarantee positions in fire services that better prepare for and fight bushfires."
Michael Balderstone, Help End Marijuana Prohibition
"To meet with senior Rural Fire Service personal within the Eden-Monaro electorate to ascertain particular needs for this electorate, which has a diverse range of environments, from coastal forests to alpine country. We believe that hazard reduction is the key to avoiding future emergencies.
"[The federal government can better assist the firefighting efforts of the states and territories] through investment in more aerial firefighting resources. With the increased length of the fire season in the northern hemisphere, we can't rely on leasing their equipment like we have in the past.
"As well as funding educational workshops between traditional fire practitioners and Rural Fire Service personnel to share wisdom and knowledge this electorate."
Riccardo Bosi, independent
"If government wants to really help, it should get off the backs of farmers and leave them alone to do what they do best. Environmental common sense lies with farmers, whose vested interest in their land makes them the true custodians of 'green' ideology. The sacred cow of 'environment' is being used to break the backs of farmers, who should be free to use their land as they see fit.
"We saw back-biting and sniping when the federal government tried assisting NSW in January. Unless premiers are prepared to lose some of the kudos they think they get when under the spotlight, nothing will change."
Cathy Griff, Greens
"The Greens responded to three bushfire enquiries: Royal Commission, NSW Inquiry and Senate Committee so our policies are publicly available. All three investigations address climate change, which underpins confronting the bushfire crisis. The Greens support strategic hazard reduction; reinstating National Parks and Forestry jobs; early deployment of defence; upgrade of communications for mobiles, radios and off-grid systems; additional aerial firefighters.
"The FiresticksAlliance Indigenous Corporation has a national approach to cultural burning and deserves federal funding. There needs to be ongoing training of teams rather than sporadic projects."
Trevor Hicks, Nationals
"We must carry out better land management practices going forward. People need to be able to clear their land near homes, and we must carry out regular cultural burning.
"The states must work closely with the federal government to identify gaps in areas. This was done during the recent bushfire season where the Commonwealth supported the firefighting effort via air force resources and providing more water bombing aircraft."
James Jansson, Science Party
"Prevention is better than cure. Action on climate change (which may have contributed to the drought and therefore to the bushfire season) would hopefully limit the extremes of this season in the future.
"While I continue to support the volunteer nature of the Rural Fire Service, I believe that the federal government should contribute when such a drawn out fire season occurs. Many people were fighting fires for weeks. If a volunteer firefighter is fighting fires for more than a week continuously, they should receive a basic payment from the federal government as part of a national disaster package."
Fiona Kotvojs, Liberals
"After 15 years as an RFS volunteer, I've learned that practical local solutions - council bushfire risk management plans and hazard reduction - need to be carried out proactively.
"I am also really pleased that the Commonwealth's ability to respond is being improved through the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements, and reviews of the Australia Defence Force's Operation Bushfire Assist and joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
"The government has been supporting traditional Indigenous burning practices in Northern Australia, and if elected I will be strongly advocating for more funding for Indigenous cool burning and traditional practices to be used in places like Biamanga National Park."
Kristy McBain, Labor
"I know from my experience on council how important it is for all levels of government to work in partnership with the locals on the ground - to enable a locally-led response to bushfire emergencies. Last year, Anthony Albanese wrote to the Prime Minister suggesting ways to improve our bushfire response, including a compensation scheme for volunteer firefighters, expanding the capacity of Australia's National Aerial Firefighting Centre and developing a new national strategy for disaster preparedness.
"There are also important practices we can learn from First Nations fire management. If the worst happens - we need bushfire victims to get quick and seamless access to the different types of support they need to rebuild their lives."
Karen Porter, independent
"A comprehensive emergency plan needs to be put in place quickly to protect water, power and communications should we have another emergency. Micro solar hubs would protect power while water needs protecting too. A communication plan for each town/village needs to be implemented so that everyone is prepared and can act in a planned way. An evacuation centre needs to be provisioned with power, comms and facilities for any family that is affected. Fast relief in the form of generator, water tank and container would enable people to stay on their land while they recover and rebuild.
"Should an emergency occur then I would like to see anyone losing their home be provided with a generator, container to collect donations, water tank and pump."
Matthew Stadtmiller, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party
"The SFF is currently reviewing its specific bushfire policy. For over a decade we have been fighting both state and federal governments to allow farmers and regional landowners a greater say over how their land is managed, including allowed small controlled burns to reduce fuel loads.
"[Mr Stadmiller is asked how the federal government can better assist the firefighting efforts of the states and territories]. There is no quick fix, but listening to local communities and constituents would be a start rather than showing up only once the issue becomes out of hand. Further, there are still constituents waiting on promised federal government financial assistance from January. The processing times are far too long in crisis' such as this."
Narelle Storey, Christian Democratic Party
"I am for cool burning and Indigenous management of our national parks. More involvement of armed forces and specially trained firefighters who can oversee and support volunteer fighters."