Black Saturday hearings suspended

By Angela Dorizas

Victoria's Royal Commission into the February 7 bushfires has resumed just days away from the first anniversary of the disaster.

The Black Saturday fires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2000 homes.

Royal Commission chairman Bernard Teague said the commission would only sit for three days this week and, as a mark of respect for those affected by the disaster, no witnesses would be called to appear.

“Our thoughts are particularly with the individuals and communities who lost loved ones, were injured in the fires, suffered property and other losses,” Mr Teague said.

“Our thoughts go also with the fire and emergency services personnel who assisted in the fire fighting and community protection efforts.

“The anniversary will be a difficult time for all those affected by the events of the 7th of February.”

Victorian Premier John Brumby welcomed the Commission’s decision to adjust scheduled hearings.

He said the continuation of hearings would have been insensitive and “very hurtful” to affected communities.

“I was very concerned that the commission had been proposing to have hearings into each fire right through the week,” Mr Brumby said.

“The reality is that in many of these communities we’ve still got families and communities that are feeling deep pain, deep hurt and for many that 12-month anniversary will be a traumatic experience.”

Mr Brumby met with the communities of Callignee and Traralgon South on Friday to mark the start of works on a $3 million community centre and CFA fire station, jointly funded by the Victorian Government, Latrobe City Council and local community.


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