Fire Review Ignites Anger

As AgForce continues to be critical of the State Governments’ review into the causes of the state’s recent bush fires they’re criticism has been enhanced with a lack of faith in the process by the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland.

The organisation’s General Manager says the review by the Inspector-General Emergency Management is “Not cutting it with us”.

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Justin Choveaux says the review cannot be seen as a real bushfire review because of its terms of reference which he says makes it clear it was only incorporating responses for the fires on the east coast, where there had been a disaster declaration.

“There have been a lot of fires across Queensland since August – Woolooga, Toogoolawah, the border country, the Arcadia Valley – this is not going to cut it with us.”

“We’re not going to focus on the response; the rural brigades did a brilliant job, they kept coming back for more. Instead, we intend to focus on land management, particularly Crown land.”

Mr Choveaux says the state government is a landholder like everyone else, with no special rights, which meant they had an obligation to their neighbours to do hazard reduction burns and maintain their land.

“In some instances, the government is a very bad neighbour. Either you’re in the game or you’re not. You either meet your legal obligations to manage your land – be consistent, honest and courageous – or scale down the land you own to meet the resources available, or stay as you are, and that’s not responsible.”

He says the government also has an attitude that treats fire response units as a free resource to manage their land when an emergency situation hit, had to be stopped.

“You own the fuel, you own the fire. QFES and rural brigades exist to support you.”

AgForce President, Georgie Somerset has also slammed the review as failing to cover the issues that impacted most heavily on the severity of the fires– lack of resourcing to adequately manage fuel loads in national parks and on state land, and vegetation management laws that prevented land owners from being able to control fires on their properties.