Report falls short

The question of why the water bombers were not immediately called in on the afternoon of May 9 when the Cherryville bushfire started remains the elephant in the room.
The release last week of the report by the State Bushfire Co-ordination Committee into that fire hasn’t changed that.
The questions addressed by the committee are important but until the bomber issue is addressed – independently – doubts will still remain over whether the CFS made the right call to hold off that day.
The CFS’s own internal review suggests the organisation made the right decision but the public needs to reassured.
The public might even need to be told in no uncertain terms that the Cherryville fire is the perfect example of why we cannot rely on aerial support to negate the risk of living in a bushfire zone.
Luckily the Opposition, with the support of Greens MLC Tammy Franks, is making sure that the issue will be examined by the State Parliament’s Community Safety and Emergency Services Select Committee.
In the meantime, the Hills should take note of at least one of the recommendations from the bushfire committee – the need for better management of private landholder burn-offs and equipment use.
The escaped burn-off and the ill-advised use of slashers are responsible for too many fires outside the fire danger season and something needs to be done to educate and regulate.

Smoking change

The push by the State Government to ban smoking in all outdoor eating and drinking areas will be a welcome relief for most non-smokers.
There’s nothing like someone else’s cigarette smoke wafting over a table of food and drink to ruin an otherwise refreshing outdoor meal.
The health risks of exposing children, the elderly, or those with a medical condition to harmful second-hand smoke should also be considered.
This push is a reflection of the wider changing social status of smoking.
Many years ago it was seen as a social activity which brought people together and was commonplace in offices, planes and restaurants. But these days smokers are forced to huddle outside in all weather conditions to get their fix.
Many thought the hospitality industry would crumble when the practice was first banned.
But any immediate negative impact was short-lived as patrons revelled in returning home from a night out without the stench of smoke through their hair and clothes.