UNDER CONTROL: QFES Acting Commissioner Michael Wassing, Minister Craig Crawford and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga discuss disaster management.
UNDER CONTROL: QFES Acting Commissioner Michael Wassing, Minister Craig Crawford and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga discuss disaster management. Darryn Nufer

Minister refuses to budge on native vegetation legislation

THE Queensland Government refuses to budge on native vegetation legislation which the Opposition claims is contributing to fire risk in Central Queensland.

Flanked by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services hierarchy in Rockhampton yesterday, Minister Craig Crawford hit back at LNP Senator Matthew Canavan who this week described the government's response to an independent report into the handling of recent natural disasters, as a "slap in the face” for CQ.

Senator Canavan had demanded action, saying the review clearly recommended the government reassess legislation around landowners' ability to clear their land to put in fire breaks.

READ: Canavan blasts the Queensland Government's bushfire review

But Mr Crawford accused the LNP of spreading misinformation.

"Nothing has changed since 2004 for a landowner to clear vegetation for fire (breaks) or for conducting burn-offs,” Mr Crawford said.

"The LNP, by spreading these lies, are the ones who are putting Queenslanders at danger because if there's any allegation about confusion with landowners, it's confusion that's been created by mischievious statements.

"I've got a team of experts behind me (literally) and I'm happy for them to make comment on this, but it's very evident throughout this report, and the Inspector General even made it very clear in a letter that is part of the report, that the Vegetation Management Act did not impact on the 2018 summer season.”

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington was critical this week that there were nearly 1000 less hazard reduction burns conducted by QFES in 2018 compared to 2015.

Mr Crawford said that was "cherry-picking” figures.

"She's comparing one year to another year, notice they're not consecutive years.

"We know from our statistics that our burn numbers from QFES were very consistent.

"There's no evidence out there whatsoever that suggests that burns are being done less because of any reason other than weather.”

When asked what landowners should do if they were confused about their clearing obligations, Mr Crawford had this advice.

"As we've said (previously), we understand that landowners need a one-stop shop in order to get the information about what they can do.

"At the moment in order to get a permit (to clear land) you need to go and see your local fire warden.

"Now you might not know who that is.

"So what we want people to do in the interim is talk to QFES about who they need to speak to, to get a permit.

"But what we are doing as a result of this report is embedding QFES staff into the 135 VEG hotline building in Charleville and that will be the one-stop shop for landowners to go to (for advice on vegetation management laws).”

People with questions about the laws can call the 135 VEG hotline number - 135 834.



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