The current fires in WA have resulted in the first WA deployment of the Coulson Aviation 737 Fireliner. The plane was flown from RAAF Richmond to RAAF Pearce overnight, where it will be on standby until at least tomorrow night.
I believe this is the first time it has been sent interstate from NSW to sit on standby without a planned drop, as the normal method of an interstate deployment is for it to fly in and drop fire retardant immediately without first landing locally.
It has now served in every state of Australia already this season. Finally somebody has remembered that states other than NSW do pay their share of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre budget.
If I was PM I would use work for the Dole to do CFA work like Back Burns , rubbish removal , fuel reduction by picking up and pulling out at the roots foreign flora. This activity is vital in our country. We need National. Service Fire Fighters.
The government is currently looking at phasing out WFTD, at least in its current punitive form where it is only an inconvenience and doesn't do anything to develop work ready skills. They are currently doing a trial in a few employment service regions of a new structure where WFTD will no longer being compulsory.
The original idea behind WFTD was that long term unemployed people would get to 'practice' working and get some worthwhile experience, while not-for-profit organisations would get some free labour. The big flaw in this is that people who are in the system long enough to be forced to do WFTD are those who don't want to work (so why would they suddenly start being productive when they are on WFTD?) or people with disabilities who the system should have placed on disability support instead of the dole. People who are able and willing to work are not on WFTD, they get jobs or pass their mutual obligation requirements with training courses and volunteer work that they select proactively.
With that in mind, I reckon using WFTD people in fire prevention would not be a winning move because it simply wouldn't get done.
I can see merit in the idea of a National Service program of some sort, which would be able to put people to all sorts of work - including fuel load reduction in bushfire prone areas but also other areas. I reckon this would be better with young people at high school graduation age though, not shiftless dole bludgers. Give an exemption to those who enter university to study a proper professional degree (subject to them maintaining good grades) or take up a trade and make good progress through their apprenticeship.