Step up to fight fires

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - Wayne John­ston

WEL­COME to 2019 for what we hope to be a full and pro­duc­tive year for agri­cul­ture.

2018 had its chal­lenges and no doubt the com­ing year will also present us with new and un­ex­pected is­sues.

To date the sea­son has been ex­cel­lent, par­tic­u­larly in t(he north, which has re­ceived reg­u­lar rain­fall re­sult­ing in good crops and to some ex­tent a re­lax­ation of the ir­ri­gation reg­i­men.

Un­for­tu­nately, over the Christ­mas/New Year pe­riod we have once again seen fires rav­aging our land­scape. The so called Gell River fire, which started in the World Her­itage area from a dry light­en­ing strike, has dom­i­nated the south of the state for the bet­ter part of a week with heavy smoke blan­ket­ing many parts of south­ern Tas­ma­nia.

Read­ers may re­call that we had a sim­i­lar World Her­itage fire in early 2016 and as then we now have a raft of so-called en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists crit­i­cis­ing the fire fight­ing ef­forts of those who have put their lives at risk to pro­tect this valu­able en­vi­ron­ment.

It is in­cred­i­ble to think that these same peo­ple who claim to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and care for it so much are never seen on the front lines fight­ing these fires but leave it to oth­ers to put their lives at risk.

As if this was not enough, they sit back in the arm­chairs pon­tif­i­cat­ing about how these fires should be fought and crit­i­cis­ing any mea­sures that have been un­der­taken.

It is high time that the same peo­ple that seem so able to or­gan­ise ral­lies to pro­tect these en­vi­ron­ments are un­able or un­will­ing to pro­vide sim­i­lar man­power to as­sist fight­ing the fires or pro­vid­ing lo­gis­tic sup­port.

It re­ally has reached the stage where it is to put up or shut up. No doubt these com­ments will so­licit more crit­i­cism from these arm­chair war­riors, but it is high time that their lack of ac­tion when it counts is called out.

I have to say that Min­is­ter Fer­gu­son’s com­ment that these crit­i­cisms by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists were ill in­formed and dis­grace­ful are spot on.

That said, we do need to en­sure that the Parks and Wildlife ser­vice has re­sources to deal with these fires in a timely fash­ion.

Let’s not for­get that there are other agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises that can be ad­versely af­fected by not only the fire, but the ex­ten­sive smoke it gen­er­ates.

As a re­sult Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia gen­eral man­ager Lloyd Klumpp said some sig­nif­i­cant changes had been made to strengthen the state’s bor­der pro­tec­tion in­clud­ing more sam­pling and greater sur­veil­lance.

‘One of the lessons from this is Queens­land fruit fly is not just a prob­lem for pest free ar­eas like Tas­ma­nia and Western Aus­tralia, it’s a prob­lem for whole na­tion,” he said.

“Tas­ma­nian and Vic­to­ria led a re­view of the na­tional fruit fly fu­mi­ga­tion pro­to­cols and they have been ad­justed na­tion­ally in or­der to im­prove the fu­mi­ga­tion process.

“But it must be un­der­stood even that process will never be 100 per cent per­fect given the na­ture of the fly.”

Sprey­ton ap­ple grow­ers the Squibb fam­ily, whose or­chard is lo­cated in the con­trol zone, were some of the pro­duc­ers cel­e­brat­ing

Brett Squibb said it has been a very dif­fi­cult year for all grow­ers within the con­trol ar­eas and they were look­ing for­ward to putting it be­hind them.

“It has been a long year and we’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to some nor­mal­ity,” he said.

“I just hope that in an­other 12 months we can look back ad say we got through it and we’ll never have to do that again.”

De­spite the chal­lenges and fi­nan­cial im­pact of the in­cur­sion on many grow­ers Mr Squibb said some pos­i­tives have come out of it.

“I think one of the best things is them amount of pub­lic aware­ness that’s out there now that we didn’t have be­fore,” he said.

“In some ways it has brought us all to­gether more and I hope that will con­tinue.” this week’s mile­stone.

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