Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katerina Carroll during a press conference at Miriam Vale last week. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katerina Carroll during a press conference at Miriam Vale last week. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Labor laws blamed for bushfire crisis

FARMERS are demanding a far-reaching commission of inquiry into the state's week-long, destructive infernos and have blamed the Palaszczuk Government's "green-inspired" land-clearing laws of exacerbating the bush fires.

As the devastating damage bill and emotional toll unfolds, peak farming group ­AgForce, and individual farmers, have accused the Government's "confusing" and constantly changing ­Vegetation Management Act from allowing them to protect their land from fire.

Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said last night that a judicial inquiry - just like the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry in 2011 - was needed to "get to the bottom" of whether Labor's laws ­contributed to central Queensland's shocking fires.

AgForce's Greg Leach backed the call.

It has also emerged Scott Morrison has offered the State Government use of the Australian Defence Force to help in the recovery, but it has been refused.

In a letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, MP for Flynn Ken O'Dowd and Dawson MP George Christensen said there were 300 soldiers from 7th Brigade and 75 from 3rd Brigade on standby, ready to help.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, with Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katerina Carroll, has rejected accusations vegetation management laws were responsible for the fires. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, with Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katerina Carroll, has rejected accusations vegetation management laws were responsible for the fires. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

And Queensland Senator James McGrath moved in the Senate yesterday a motion that recognised that the Queensland Government's laws prevented landholders from properly protecting their property from bushfires. It was tied, which means, it was defeated.

Labor did not support it and One National Senator Pauline Hanson did not turn up for the vote.

Farmers have taken to ­social media blaming the Government's laws for making it hard to get rid of growth, which creates more fuel for bushfires.

Dr Leach, AgForce Queensland's senior policy adviser, said the Palaszczuk Government's amendments to vegetation management laws had made conditions worse on the ground for landholders.

Dr Leach said the Vegetation Management Act, introduced by Labor 20 years ago, had been amended more than 40 times, and was confusing for farmers.

A bushfire at Ambrose in Central Queensland last week. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
A bushfire at Ambrose in Central Queensland last week. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

Ms Palaszczuk has previously rejected accusations her Government's vegetation management laws were in any way responsible.

QFES commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Sunday the legislation had not changed the way fire risk was being managed.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford told The Courier-Mail earlier this year that landholders could still undertake hazard reduction burning by obtaining permits from a Rural Fire Service as is allowed under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990.

Senator Canavan said when he spent three days with people ravaged by fire last week, they were furious about the Queensland Government's restrictions on backburning and clearing.

"People should have the right to protect themselves and their property through appropriate land management," he said.

"The Queensland Government needs to listen to those with the real knowledge on the ground."



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