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Dismay at unprepared owners
The West Australian

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis has expressed frustration that some landowners do not appear to have adequately prepared their properties for bushfire season despite months of warnings and a high-profile, $1 million advertising campaign.

Mr Francis rejected suggestions the State Government might have to introduce new regulations for bushfire-prone areas, saying landowners had to take responsibility.

He was adamant the Government and emergency services could not have done anything more to prepare for this bushfire season.

"Everyone here . . . must be sick of hearing me say, 'Are you ready', go to the website . . . download the brochure, go through the checklist," Mr Francis said yesterday.

"A lot of homeowners have done that, we know that . . . but you know what, some people don't. You live in a bushfire-risk area. You've got to take some responsibility.

"Having said that, that doesn't help the people who have now lost their homes.

"(But) it is disappointing when you hear stories of people at 1pm on the roof with blower vacs, blowing out the gutters."

Former firefighting chief Roger Underwood agreed that individuals needed to take responsibility for their own precautions but criticised authorities for not forcing the issue.

The Bushfire Front chairman and former department of Conservation and Land Management boss said councils had the power to penalise landholders who did not properly prepare their properties under the Bush Fires Act.

However, Mr Underwood said they rarely did so - a situation he claimed was being compounded by the Government's reluctance to enforce the Act.

"It's not just the landowners," he said. "Admittedly, they haven't done their job but neither have the shires, nor the department (of Fire and Emergency Services).

"What have they done to enforce the Act on land in the Mundaring Shire and how many people have been prosecuted for not removing their hazards? I bet the numbers are very, very tiny."

The Government donated $1 million to the Lord Mayor's disaster relief fund, whose proceeds will be distributed to fire victims at a later date.