Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause backs LNP's 10-point bushfire plan

FIRE PLAN: The LNP wants to make sweeping changes to bushfire management but the state government says there is no room for politics in the current discussion.
FIRE PLAN: The LNP wants to make sweeping changes to bushfire management but the state government says there is no room for politics in the current discussion.

THE state opposition has launched a 10-point plan to make across-the-board changes to Queensland's bushfire strategy they say the LNP will initiate if they win the election in October.

The Labor government has fired back saying 10-point plans were "for pamphlets" and that many of the suggestions on the LNP plan were already part of Queensland's bushfire management strategy.

Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause said hundreds of people across the Scenic Rim Electorate had worked hard fighting fires in the past months and pledged to listen to frontline volunteers about what needed to be done differently.

"There's no doubt we have some awesome firies and wonderful volunteers - and I'd include SES and all other volunteers like the Salvos in that too," Mr Krause said.

"In all these fires, three key messages have come through: we need to respect local knowledge about fires; we need to reduce fuel loads on property, especially on state-owned land and in National Parks; and we need a better system to ensure hazard reduction burns everywhere are done when they should be - not stopped due to inept bureaucracy, because if they're not carried out disaster can strike later on."

Mr Krause said the LNP's plan would deliver on these points.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the LNP would take decisive action to get Queensland bushfire ready.

"In a bushfire-prone state like ours, the government must stop at nothing to ensure communities are kept safe," she said.

"Queensland has faced its own bushfire catastrophes in recent years, but the Palaszczuk Labor government has failed to learn lessons and strengthen policies."

Ms Frecklington said the LNP's 10-point-plan was the culmination of recommendations by the Inspector General Emergency Management, listening to the concerns of stakeholders, and implementing the advice of Queensland's expert rural firefighters.

"The LNP will make sweeping improvements to Queensland's bushfire strategy to make the state more prepared and more able to respond in emergencies," she said.

"Queensland needs a modern strategy to mitigate and respond to bushfires and the LNP has the plan to deliver it if elected in October's election."

However acting Fire and Emergency Services minister Leeanne Enoch said we were well past the time when politics were welcome in the discussion about bushfires.

"Many of the LNP's suggestions - a one-stop-shop for bushfire information, indigenous methods, grazing to manage fuel loads and local management of fires - are already part of Queensland's fire management," she said.

"There are many things like the open days held at more than 60 fire stations last year to better prepare our communities for the bushfires that are not on the LNP's list.

"More than a million hectares were control-burned last year to manage our fire risk.

"Less than two per cent of Queensland's 2019 bushfires started in national parks."

Ms Enoch said laws about building fire breaks were unchanged.

"And yet the LNP persists in ignoring these facts because it suits their politics," she said.

"They continue to argue about the legitimacy of climate change and its real-world impact on rural Queensland.

"Ten-point plans are for pamphlets.

"How we best prepare for and fight fires is a job requiring teamwork and the very best firefighters in the business.

"Ours have proven themselves time and time again.

"We will continue doing what we have always done - investing in our capability, learning from our last natural disaster to better prepare ourselves for the next."

The LNP plan includes:

  1. One-stop-shop for streamlined approval process. The LNP said it would establish a single point of contact for landholders and councils to submit all bushfire mitigation inquiries and permits to the government, as recommended by the 2018 IGEM report.
  2. Deemed approval after 15 business days under a "right to burn" model. Properly made applications would be automatically approved after 15 business days to give landholders and councils certainty.
  3. New KPIs to achieve 98 per cent of hazard reduction activities. The LNP said there were currently no KPIs holding government departments to account on hazard reduction burns, the creation of firebreaks and community education. They said between 2016 and 2019, only 54 per cent of hazard reduction burns planned had been completed and there had been a 30 per cent reduction in completed overall hazard reduction activities.
  4. Indigenous rangers to undertake traditional burning . The LNP said it would trial a traditional burning program run by indigenous rangers. The program would not replace Rural Fire Brigades' role in managing and co-ordinating hazard reduction burns.
  5. Establish a Natural Disaster Cabinet Committee to monitor preparations. The group would be chaired by the Emergency Services Minister and QFES Commissioner. It would monitor the progress of state departments and landholders conducting hazard reduction activities.
  6. Monitored grazing in state forests and some national parks to manage fuel loads. The LNP said the 2018 IGEM report cited grazing as a measure used in conjunction with a suite of hazard reduction measures. Grazing would be monitored to protect the environment but also manage fuel loads.
  7. Establish urban-based Rural Fire Volunteer brigades. The LNP said this would be similar to Sydney and Melbourne where brigades were manned by urban volunteers that could be called on during extreme bushfire events.
  8. Restore local control to Rural Fire brigades . The LNP said recent management structure changes had pushed local fire brigades under the reporting authority of regional urban fire groups. They said the Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland had been very vocal in calling for brigades to be able to report back through the rural fire assistant commissioner rather than through the urban fire system.
  9. Establish a Rural Fire Board. The Rural Fire Board would be made up of elected rural fire brigade members from across Queensland as well as members appointed by the government.
  10. Review of aerial firefighting capability. A review and stocktake of aviation fire assets in Queensland to ensure the state's capacity would accommodate future increased fire risks.