UPGRADES to Rathdowney fire station are set to begin later this year – four years after money was allocated – but opposition MPs have slammed the delays.
A spokesperson for Fire Services Minister Craig Crawford said $1.7 million had been allocated to the upgrade over two financial years, including 2018-19.
“It is expected preliminary works will start around October or November,” the spokesperson said.
However opposition fire spokesman Lachlan Millar said he feared the project would stay on the back-burner while the rural station’s firefighters worked in shoddy conditions.
“This is a bloody disgrace,” he said. “I call on the minister to stop buggerising around, get off his backside and get this done now, not next year.”
Mr Millar said he was astounded Rathdowney fire crews had been using a temporary shed for at least four years.
“I’ve been in all parts of Queensland but I have never seen this,” he said. “How hard is it to put up a new facility when the money is in the budget?”
MP Jon Krause said he had been told in 2016 the upgrades would start last year.
“Here we are in the middle of 2018 and still nothing has been done,” Mr Krause said.
Last month Rural Fire Service regional manager Alan Gillespie warned that Beaudesert had been identified as a key area of concern for this bushfire season.
Residents were urged to prepare before it was too late, while rural firefighters had started controlled burns.
In 2014, $100,000 was allocated for the design of a new shed to house the rural and auxiliary fire service.
Two years later then emergency services minister Bill Byrne said the works were to start early in 2017.
Last year a spokesperson for then fire minister Mark Ryan said more planning was needed due to land issues at the side.
Fire Minister Craig Crawford said the government had allocated $7.6 million in this year’s budget for the delivery of fire stations at Rathdowney, Childers, Richmond, El Arish, Esk, Gracemere, Kilkivan, Wooroolin and Yarraman.
This was out of a $702 million budget for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
“This record funding commitment for QFES in 2018-19 includes $82.3 million, which will be invested into fire and emergency services facilities, vehicles, information and communications systems and equipment,” Mr Crawford said.
“As our personnel numbers grow it is important they are supported through the provision of appropriate and critical infrastructure, like new fire and rescue stations.
“It’s imperative QFES grows with the community so it can continue delivering excellent service to those they serve.
“This commitment will enhance operational capability right across the state.”