Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a State of Disaster for six Local Government Areas and the Alpine Resorts, after considering advice from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the Emergency Management Commissioner.
The Premier is satisfied there is an emergency that constitutes, or is likely to constitute, a significant and widespread danger to life or property in the following part of Victoria:
• East Gippsland Shire
• Mansfield Shire
• Wellington Shire
• Wangaratta Rural Shire
• Towong Shire
• Alpine Shire
• Mount Butler
• Mount Hotham
• Mount Stirling Alpine Resorts
The Government’s priority is the safety of Victorians.
A state of disaster:
• May be declared to exist in the whole, or parts, of Victoria
• Exists immediately upon the making of the declaration and remains in force for one month (unless another declaration is made)
• Can be revoked or varied by the Premier at any time.
The declaration gives the Government, through the Minister for Emergency Services, the powers and resources it needs to keep Victorians safe.
Examples of the Minister’s broad power to direct and allocate government resources include:
• Directing any government agency to do, or refrain from doing, any function, power, duty, or responsibility
• Declaring that the operation of an Act or subordinate instrument is suspended, if compliance by a government agency with that legislation would inhibit response to or recovery from the disaster
• Take possession and make use of any person’s property to respond to the disaster
• Controlling movement in and out of the disaster area and
• Compelling the evacuation of persons from the disaster area or any part of it.
This is the first time the Victorian Government has used these powers since they were included in the Emergency Management Act 1986 following the devastating Victorian Bushfires in 2009.
Dealing with the immediate aftermath of the fires while many fires continue to burn across the state is a significant challenge that involves all levels of government.
The Government has already established a Bushfire Response and Recovery Taskforce to support communities and help them rebuild from the devastating fires still burning in the east of the state.