Bush­fire re­view re­leased

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly - Sarah Vogler and Jack McKay

QUEENS­LAND farm­ers were con­fused about their back­burn­ing rights and wor­ried about breach­ing state veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws lead­ing into last year’s dev­as­tat­ing Cen­tral Queens­land bush­fires, a re­view has found.

The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment this week re­leased re­views into the bush­fires, as well as into the flood­ing dis­as­ter that af­fected Townsville and north and north­west Queens­land.

It fol­lowed their con­sid­er­a­tion by Cab­i­net this week.

Act­ing In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Emer­gency Man­age­ment Mike Sha­p­land said among his rec­om­men­da­tions on bush­fires was that “more clar­ity” was needed around land­holder rights.

“Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand ex­actly what they could do and we learnt that from a va­ri­ety of sources,” he said.

“Landown­ers we spoke to were very aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der the leg­is­la­tion and were wor­ried about breach­ing those as­pects and there was some cau­tion in terms of in their ap­proach to back burn­ing on that ba­sis.

“Veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment ex­cep­tions which al­low peo­ple to clear fire­breaks … haven’t changed since 2004.

“It is com­pli­cated. The in­ter­sec­tion of leg­is­la­tion is worth ex­plain­ing.”

Pre­mier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed more could be done to en­sure land­hold­ers were aware of their back­burn­ing rights.

“There is a le­git­i­mate con­cern out there that we need to be more ef­fec­tive in get­ting out our mes­sage and mak­ing sure that land­hold­ers do know that they can clear, that these laws have not changed since 2004.

“We will put in place a key com­mu­ni­ca­tion aware­ness cam­paign to make sure that they are aware of their rights and their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Mr Sha­p­land said of the Townsville floods that ex­perts found man­age­ment of the Ross River Dam was cor­rect.

Ms Palaszczuk said the re­ports found sig­nif­i­cantly more flood­ing would have oc­curred if the dam did not ex­ist.

She said the re­view found if in­creased wa­ter re­leases had been made ear­lier there would have been no “ap­pre­cia­ble” dif­fer­ence to the flood­ing im­pacts.

“In essence the IGEM re­port states clearly the dam was op­er­ated in ac­cor­dance with the emer­gency ac­tion plan and that SunWater ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cated with the Townsville City Coun­cil and that SunWater acted on in­struc­tion from Townsville

City Coun­cil as the dam owner,” she said.

PHOTO: FILE

EMER­GENCY MAN­AGE­MENT: The State Gov­ern­ment re­leased re­views into the bush­fires and flood­ing dis­as­ter that af­fected cen­tral and north­west Queens­land.

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