• Subject Name : Law

The Prevention and Management of Wildland Fires

Table of Contents





Introduction to Bushfire Prevention and Management Act

It has been identified that the conference was purported to develop and settle terms of new international convention- United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Management of Wildland Fires (the “Convention”). The theme of the convention was “The Prevention and Management of Wildland Fires”. The current study will analyze the Bushfire Prevention and Management Act 2019 (Cth) specifically of section 6 and section 7 in light of the case study provided. The Act has been passed with developing some objectives including providing a framework to be used for preventing out of control fires in the wildland areas. Along with this, an attempt has also been taken to develop a protocol for the orderly management of the ecologically sustainable reduction of fuel in the wildlife areas. Another objective was to provide better protection of the wildlife and traditional communities of that area.

Discussion on Bushfire Prevention and Management Act

An act is required to be interpreted based on some ground rules such as its literal rule, golden rules, mischief rules and others (Gluck, 2017). The current study will attempt to apply the provisions of the Act mentioned in order to advise Robyn and Johnnie as they have been charged under section 6 and section 7 of the act. It has been identified in the case study that an annual Sausage Sizzle charity event has been organized by CuttageeCoastcare group in order to raise fund so that they can support research on possible biodynamic means through which the Bitou Bush can be eradicated. Along with this, it was also attempted to develop eco-friendly ways to prevent encroaching of Australian Cheesewood in the dune environment.

There are two incidents that the current study will be focusing on will possibly elicit the charge against Robyn and Johnnie by section 6 and 7. The first incident is where the group members mostly targeted to remove the litters. However, as the fundraising curriculum required the group to cook sausage barbeque required to be placed. The dune environment caused uneven surface making it difficult for placing the barbeque. They have attempted to prevent starting up of fire the grassed site has been levelled with mattocks and shovel. As Johnnie wanted to collapse to fill the rabbit hole with the shovel, it decapacitated a rabbit and led to death. Another incident that elicited the charge under the act was the incident of gas bottle catching fire. Some of the members did not turn off the LPG gas bottle properly. Additionally, Robyn leaned over to pick up the gas bottle it caught fire. Due to this, a nearby patch of Bitou Bush caught alight. As a result, nearby 5 hectors of dune vegetation forming part of the local coastal reserve has been burned. The main issue arose regarding this fire which burnt the entire lettuce crop of a resident of coastal reserve. This resulted from the allowance of Bitou Bush of a valuable windbreak in the garden of that resident.

Advice to Robyn

It can be stated that the act of the whole group caused mainly elicited two incidents against the legal provision of the act. As per the section 6 of “Bushfire Prevention and Management Act 2019 (Cth)”, an individual that is responsible for causing a fire that is lit outside a building, dwelling or any other man-made structure without having permission from the commission would be considered guilty. In a simpler term, it can be stated that this commission is responsible for fulfilling their obligations under the “United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Management of Wildland Fires”. They are provided with the responsibility of promoting and regulating ecologically sustainable management of fauna populations and native vegetation. In order to accomplish the same, the commission will lead to fuel reduction and other practices related to bushfire management practices so that the loss of human life and wildlife can be prevented. As the group required to take permission and discussion about the Bitou Bush fire from the commission, it will be considered as an offence as this led to damage to the human.

The commission here is addressing Commonwealth Bushfire Management Commission that has been established by the current act. The person can be punished by 2 years of imprisonment or a fine up to $200,000. From the scenario of the given case study it can be stated that though Jonnie and Robin did not attempt to burn the lettuce crop of the resident lodging complaint at the police station, their acts are closely related to the damage of the crop. It has been mentioned that as they were eager to get rid of the Bitou Bush they were pleased by causing fire to the nearby Bitou Bush. Robyn and Johnnie observed to focus only on the Bitou Bush being eradicated through the fire. However, they did not show concern about the coastal people residing nearby. Therefore, it can be stated that both individuals were not aware of the consequences of their actions.

In other words, it can be stated that at the time of lifting the gas bottle Robyn had a lit cigarette in her mouth which along with the opened gas bottle caused the fire. It can be stated that Robyn could have been more cautious as she was dealing with a gas bottle which is vulnerable to catch fire. Robyn showed negligence regarding her concern about safely handling the equipment prone to catch fire. Therefore, it can be stated that though the intention was not to set fire on the Bitou Bush, it took place due to the behavioural negligence of Robyn due to which she is being held responsible for the damage caused to the nearby resident. The lettuce crop here can be considered as native vegetation which includes all the plant species whether is of land or sea that have been in Australia since 1788. The lettuce crop is a man-made structure by the resident that raised a complaint about the damage of her crops. Therefore, this act comes under section 6 of the act.

The Bushfire Prevention and Management Bill has been passed in the year 2019 on the 16th of March. The events have taken place on 21 April of 2019. Therefore, it applies to the current contexts.

Advice to Johnnie

Another incident of breaching of the provisions of the act was related to Johnnie’s actions related to levelling the site for placing the barbeque. First of all, the rabbit hole was attempted to be collapsed or filled. At the time of doing so, the shovel sank into the ground causing the death of a rabbit. It can be stated that this was a conscious act of Johnnie who attempted to fill or collapse the rabbi hole as this could cause the death of the rabbit eventually (Mulligan & Staszewski, 2016). Though the act of Johnnie is not directly related to the death of the rabbit, it was a conscious act to cause harm to the rabbit. It has been identified that the convention had developed some objectives among which one of the objectives was to give full protection to the native wildlife and the communities traditionally residing in the wildland areas. The provisions of “Bushfire Prevention and Management Act 2019 (Cth)” define wildlife as all the animal species both inland or sea along with the birds that were present since 1788 in Australia.

The act performed by Johnnie can be considered as the fuel reduction activities that have been developed and designed for reducing potential bushfire commencement or escalation. This is associated with the land clearing activities, controlled burning and back-burning activities. The Act of Johnnie was related to cleaning the land for placing the barbeque.

It has been mentioned in the case study that Jonnie has been charged for breaching section 7 provision of the Act. Section 7 of “Bushfire Prevention and Management Act 2019 (Cth)” enforce that if any action of an individual causes killing, injury or disturbance any wildlife or habitat animal, during any fire prevention activities shall be guilty that is punishable under the act by 2 years of imprisonment or fine up to $500,000. Here, the rabbit is considered a part of the wildlife. Though the action by Johnnie was not directly related to the death of the rabbit, the act of collapsing the hole was intentional for levelling the grassed site. This is surely punishable under this act (Kozel, 2018).

It is required to be mentioned that the event has been organized in the location full consisting of native vegetation and wildlife. It is the core inability of the group to understand the potential impacts of the acts related to this event. Even at the time of conducting the event adequate measures for preventing damage and protecting the native lives could not be taken by the group. The location of the event could have been changed to the other spaces where the potential harms of the event could be minimized to the minimum. It has come under consideration as this has been enforced to be maintained by the act.

It can be stated that Robyn and her team was responsible for taking permission from the commission to conduct the event in the area. Even if there was no incident of damage to the crops or violation of any other provisions, it was an offence not to take permission from the commission. This is directly related to the act performed by Robyn. Robyn can be considered guilty as she was president of the group and taking permission was her responsibility to protect her group from potential charge and preventing any harm to the wildlife and resident of the place chosen by them to conduct the event of fundraising.

This can be discussed under the mischief rule of statutory interpretation. It is required to focus on the fact that Robyn and her team did not take permission from the commission for conducting the event in the mentioned location. The true meaning of provision 6 where it is mentioned that an individual action of whom caused the fire to the native vegetation without taking permission from the commission is guilty. Therefore, it can be stated that though the actions were not intentional as permission was not taken, Robyn will be held guilty. The case of “Smith v Hughes, 1960” can be considered here. It has been held that under the Street Offences Act 1959. Loitering and soliciting in the street due to the purpose of prostitution is considered as a crime. However, it has been claimed by the offenders that they were calling people from the balcony in the streets which are not street related offences. Defendants claimed not to be guilty as they were not in the street. The mischief rule has been applied in this case by the judge. It has been concluded that the defendants were guilty as the main intention of the Act was to prevent prostitutes from harassing people. In this context, the provisions under section 6 are also intended to enforce a standard framework for preventing uncontrolled fire. As the permission was not taken a disregard to this provision has been demonstrated which can be considered as an offence hereunder which Robyn is guilty.

It can be stated that “Bushfire Prevention and Management Act 2019 (Cth)” comes under the Commonwealth government’s Constitutional power. Therefore, the provisions under the act are required to be adhered to while considering any action related to having the potential for harming the natives and the wildlife.

Conclusion on Bushfire Prevention and Management Act

In conclusion, defendants here are Robyn and Johnnie that are charged under section 6 and 7 of the “Bushfire Prevention and Management Act 2019 (Cth)” respectively. The actions performed by Johnnie led the wildlife to be disturbed by killing a rabbit. On the other hand, the act performed by Robyn that was neglecting the potential harm of the event held and smoking of cigarette at the time of lifting the gas bottle. This act has led Robyn to contribute to the burning of the lettuce crop of a resident.

References for Bushfire Prevention and Management Act

Gluck, A. R. (2017). Congress, Statutory Interpretation, and the Failure of Formalism: The CBO Canon and Other Ways That Courts Can Improve on What They Are Already Trying to Do. The University of Chicago Law Review, 177-212.

Kozel, R. J. (2018). Statutory Interpretation, Administrative Deference, and the Law of Stare Decisis. TEx. L. REv., 97, 1125.

Smith v Hughes [1960]

Mulligan, L. N., & Staszewski, G. (2016). Civil Rules Interpretive Theory. Minn. L. Rev., 101, 2167.

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