It was the greens:
THE shire council covering some of the areas hit hardest by the bushfires was warned five years ago that its policy of encouraging people to grow trees near their homes to give the appearance of a forest would lead to disaster.
One of Australia's leading bushfire experts, Rod Incoll, warned Nillumbik Shire Council in a 2003 report that it risked devastation if it went ahead with changes to planning laws proposed by green groups that restricted the removal of vegetation.
Steve2 in the comments writes (emphasis added by BH):
I found this letter in an archive written by a Nillumbik resident called Mary McDonald in relation to the recent bushfires inquiries in 2003.
She may not be a typical example, but she seems to have an issue with the influence on the council of what she calls "green zealots"
As noted by our host, She starts of by saying "We have failed to learn from the Aborigines."
I hope you dont mind these extensive quotes? among other interesting things she had to say 6 years ago are:
"Nillumbik is recognised as one of the highest fire prone areas in the world. An Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO) covers 67% of the Shire mainly in non-urban areas. This overlay restricts residents on private property from maintaining their properties in a fire safe manner. Now our council wants to place a Significant Landscape Overlay over the entire urban area where no tree can be removed without a permit. This is part of the recent neighbourhood character amendment (C 12). If passed by the panel, will require for example 5-20 gum trees to be planted per 1/4 acre block, to form a canopy over our houses..."
"...The intention is to cover this urban Shire with a native tree canopy. Native trees drop limbs and leaf litter, they are known as fire flora or fire weeds. Their low-water content and high oil content and streamers of bark ensure a "wildfire" develops."
"The Country Fire Authority Act 1958 should allow for safe maintenance and planning, however the country Fire authority (CFA) fails to enforce its own act.
I believe the green zealots have joined the local [Fire] brigades and many of these never fight fires.
Brigades receive part of their funding from local councils, which they now rely on. The CFA Administration is also supportive of the green zealots."
I hope she made it. Ye gods what a mess. A funeral pyre built by big government.