Mine fire inquiry on its way

FEW residents attended a community information session about the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry as the deadline for submissions fast approaches.

Environmental Justice Australia and Gippsland Community Legal Services held two sessions at the Morwell Senior Citizens’ Centre on Monday, providing information about how to prepare a submission or make an appearance at the re-opened Inquiry community consultation sessions next month.

Organisers said some confusion also surrounded the purpose of the reopened Inquiry, and stressed the terms of reference focused on the consequences of the Hazelwood mine fire, not the cause of the fire or agencies’ responses.

“There are still questions about the scope of the Inquiry. People are still focussed to a large extent about the problems that occurred during the fire and the lack of services,” Gippsland Community Legal Service community lawyer Damien Pitts said.

Mr Pitts said this was understandable given how traumatic the event was, but said the terms of references were “forward focussed”.

Written submissions include comment on Anglesea, health concerns and mine rehabilitation.

“We’re trying to raise awareness that there is a new Inquiry and ensure people know the terms of reference from this Inquiry, not last year’s.”

Voices of the Valley president Wendy Farmer said about eight people attended the evening session and about 15 in the afternoon, respectively. The advocacy group will be represented by Environmental Justice Australia during the Inquiry.

A Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry spokesperson said they had decided to give the community more opportunity to send their submissions and extended the deadline by a week