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Hazelwood Mine Inquiry Week 4
The final week of public hearings provided the opportunity for closing submissions to be heard and submitted on Tuesday and Wednesday 17 and 18 June 2014.
Counsel Assisting the Board of Inquiry provided their final submission which centred on the key matters of:
- Origin and
response to the fire
- Health and
- Mitigation and
Counsel Assisting provided a number of commendations, criticisms and recommendations to the Board relating to these matters, which the Board will consider during its deliberations.
Whilst these were stated publicly, it is not considered appropriate to detail these matters given it is still up to the Board to make its formal and final recommendations in its report due to be handed down by the end of August 2014.
Environment Victoria presented its submission and stated it considered the extent of the fire was avoidable, by the adoption of mitigation measures, and made consideration regarding the rehabilitation of the worked-out areas of the mine.
The United Firefighters (UFU) stated its concerns for firefighter safety in relation to such incidents and emphasised the inherent risks to firefighter health due to their line of work. Matters were also raised concerning welfare.
Mine owner GDF Suez put forward a number of themes including the use to be made of evidence, distinction between rehabilitation and fire risk management and lessons learned.
The State made many general observations relating to the conditions on the day and difficulties facing fire services and it referred strongly to the content of its second submission to the Board made during that week. Much of the detail provided centred on the Emergency Services White Paper and the introduction of Emergency Management Victoria and the reform associated therewith.
In his closing address, the Hon Bernard Teague stated that Wednesday 18 June 2014 marked the end of 16 days of listening to the community in community consultations, all of which provided an invaluable insight.
The Hon Bernard Teague thanked witnesses, especially community witnesses, for telling their stories and thanked participants in community consultations and those who wrote submissions. He also thanked lawyers, media, the Inquiry team and staff, Counsel Assisting for their representation, local businesses and contractors and finally the City of Latrobe for sharing their facilities.
The Board will now concentrate on their report and recommendations and the Premier will determine timing for tabling.
He also acknowledged the people of Morwell and the community, hoping that this work will prevent such a disaster happening again.
More information, including transcripts of evidence provided to the Inquiry Board, is available at http://hazelwoodinquiry.vic.gov.au/
Peter Schmidt and Karen Alexander
Joint Directors, Hazelwood Mine Inquiry