More hazard reduction, cattle to return to parks in new plan
THE LNP shadow minister for fire and emergency services Lachlan Millar toured the Lockyer Valley yesterday with local MP Jim McDonald, spruiking their 10-point plan for bushfires ahead of the state election later this year.
But despite pledging to complete 98 per cent of plan hazard reduction burns and set up new urban-based rural fire brigades should they win government, there will be no new funding according to Mr Millar.
Speaking at the Hatton Vale - Summerholm Rural Fire brigade, where he met with local fire fighters, Mr Millar said the plan was about using the already established budget better.
"At the moment we have a $700 million budget for Queensland fire and emergency services," Mr Millar said.
"So, there is plenty of money on the ground at the moment - it's how you use that money and where you prioritise that money."
But he wouldn't be drawn on whether that meant other areas of QFES would face budget cuts to re-prioritise the funding.
The plan would also guarantee the landowners would be given a yes or no answer on a permit to burn within 15 days - which he believed was possible without boosting funding for the department assessing the applications.
"I mean that's putting pressure on us to get it right and make a decision," he said.
While climate change isn't mentioned anywhere in the document, Mr Millar said the plan was about changing policy to suit the new reality we faced - which included a changing climate.
"We've got to adjust policies to suit climate change," he said.
"If we're seeing hotter months, a longer period of bushfires - we've got to adjust our policies … to make sure that we are bushfire ready."
Local MP Jim McDonald was excited about the proposed plan, in particular the proposal to see cattle return in a monitored way to State Forests and national parks.
Mr McDonald said in light of last year's devastating Glen Rock National Park bushfire, which burned for months in inaccessible terrain, the plan to return cattle to it to graze and reduce fuel loads was positive.
"Glen Rock has been grazed as a cattle country for long time and they restricted a lot of things and you've seen increased fuel load there," Mr McDonald said. "So, it's a common sense, practical solution."
He said the plan focused on given control back to local firefighters and local landowners.
"It'll empower the local people for hazard reduction activities when the conditions are right here - so that we can look after our area," he said.