Western Australia Parliament won’t pay ultramarathon fire victims

The Daily Telegraph
May 10, 2012 12:00AM

WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett says it is not the state’s obligation to compensate victims of a bushfire that bore down on runners in an ultramarathon race in the Kimberley region.

The state government sponsored the event, with its Tourism WA agency paying $85,000 to company Beyond Action to film it, although the contract was for $170,000.

A further $105,000 sponsorship payment under the Royalties for Regions program was approved by cabinet but was not paid to the race organiser, Racing the Planet of Hong Kong, in light of the tragedy in September last year.

The fire left runners Kate Sanderson and Turia Pitt with life-threatening burns to more than 60 per cent of their bodies.

Mr Barnett yesterday rejected calls for the $105,000 to be paid to the victims.

“It’s not a government responsibility,” he said.

“This was a private event conducted on private property, and the entrants entered into it on known conditions.”

He said there were strong grounds for compensation claims, but they should not be directed at the government.

A parliamentary inquiry is investigating whether proper protocols were in place.s

“I am terribly sympathetic to the young women concerned, and the state has been and will be supportive of them, but if there is any claim it would be against the private company that ran this event,” he said.

Article source: www.dailytelegraph.com.au