News State Victoria News Former judge to head Victorian mine fire inquiry

Former judge to head Victorian mine fire inquiry

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The former Supreme Court judge who headed the Black Saturday bushfires royal commission will lead an independent inquiry into Victoria’s coalmine fire.

Former justice Bernard Teague will head a board of inquiry that will look into the emergency response and the support provided to affected communities.

The state government announced on Tuesday that the inquiry would be convened by the end of March and submit its response to the government by the end of August.

Premier Denis Napthine told reporters that now the Morwell fire was under control, it was time for an independent inquiry to look into all aspects of the fire, including how it started and how it spread into the mine.

The deliberately lit Hazelwood mine fire has burned since February 9, and vulnerable residents are still advised to leave Morwell South due to the smoke.

The fire was brought under control at the weekend, but Victorian Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says it will not be out until significant rainfall.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews welcomed the inquiry but said it must be public.

“The people of Morwell and the Latrobe Valley, they are entitled to a public process,” he told reporters.

“They must have their say and this inquiry must be held in the open for all Victorians to see just how badly Denis Napthine has botched this entire issue.”

Mr Andrews says Labor will reserve judgment on the terms of reference until they are made public, saying they must cover all elements of the fire including the response by government and its agencies.

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