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11 February 2009
PG / 210
I have this afternoon granted the Victorian Government an emergency exemption under the national environment legislation, confirming that it can take any actions required in response to the current severe bushfires across Victoria.
While existing federally approved plans allow for the construction of fire breaks and other works, this national interest exemption confirms that any other essential works to protect life and property, including essential infrastructure, should take place without requiring assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
My decision follows a request from the Victorian Government earlier this afternoon and will remain in force as long as it takes to fight these unprecedented and terrible bushfires across Victoria.