On ‘Thank a First Responder Day’ the Palaszczuk Labor Government refuses to budge on its push to sack nearly 5000 rural fire brigade volunteers after the upcoming fire season.
LNP Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar said that instead of respecting and valuing our volunteers that defend our rural communities the Labor Government continues to hold them in limbo.
“Minister Craig Crawford’s backflip on blue cards for rural firies showed the implementation had been bungled from the start,” Mr Millar said.
“Nearly 5000 firies were set to get the sack and now they should be urgently re-instated ahead of the upcoming bushfire season to ensure our communities are protected.
“The reason why the sacking of thousands of rural fire volunteers was delayed until after the fire season was that entire communities and brigades had been left unmanned under the botched rollout.
“In Minister Crawford’s own region in the Far North, 46 per cent of rural fire volunteers had not applied for a Blue Card*.
“The Central and Northern Queensland regions have 34 per cent and the South West region has 33 per cent of volunteers who hadn’t event put their applications in.
“Having a situation where there would have been towns and communities without functioning rural fire brigades due to the arrogance of this Labor Government’s handling of the blue card process is unforgivable.
“Craig Crawford must apologise to each and every rural fire volunteer today over this fiasco.
“An LNP Government led by Deb Frecklington would work with our rural firies, not threaten them with the sack and help keep our communities safe.
“On behalf of the LNP I want to thank them all for their hard work and professionalism in serving our community.”
LNP Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar said the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s backflip today on blue cards for rural firies showed the implementation had been bungled from the very beginning.
“Queensland is only months away from bushfire season and our volunteer rural firefighters will play a vital role in protecting communities across the state,” Mr Millar said.
“The whole time the Palaszczuk Labor Government spent threatening to sack our rural firies should have spent working with them and getting our state bushfire-prepared.
“Labor Minister Craig Crawford must personally apologise to each and every rural fire volunteer today over this fiasco and the way he has treated our rural firies.
“Queensland couldn’t afford to have thousands of rural firies hand in their badges in the lead up to bushfire season and Labor pushing back the deadline for a third time is an admission they have botched this whole process.
“Clearly Labor should never have threatened to sack our rural firies.
“Rural volunteer firefighters have been treated appallingly by Labor throughout this entire saga, and it’s still not over.
“An LNP Government led by Deb Frecklington would work with our rural firies, not threaten them with the sack.”
LNP Member for Nanango says South Burnett small business have been given nothing but false hope with the Labor Government’s COVID-19 business grants already drying up.
Mrs Frecklington said support for small business by the Palaszczuk Government during the coronavirus restrictions has been nothing but a debacle.
“Small business is bearing the brunt of the economic ramifications of the coronavirus restrictions, yet the State Government has neglected them,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“While most other states introduced emergency grants for small business almost straight away, it took until the 19th May before the Palaszcsuk Government acknowledged grants were needed.
“And this was only due to sustained pressure from the LNP and groups like the Qld Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“Less than one week later these grants are already closed. Many were still working with their accountant, or getting their figures sorted before they even had a chance to submit their application. It is completely unacceptable.
“There are more than 438,000 small businesses in Queensland, including thousands right here in the South Burnett and the majority have not been able to access this support. In fact, just 2.2% of small businesses will see any funding from this grant.
“I’ve been speaking with the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) who are rightly concerned that our local businesses have missed out,” Deb said.
KCCI President, Damien Martoo, said the $10, 000 cash grants that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced last week could have been a real game changer for local business, who have for the past five years been battling the repercussions of a drought declared region and now COVID -19 restrictions.
“While the announcement of the grants were very welcome by the business community to pivot, diversify and thrive, the first in best dressed structure was never going to work for small and micro, mum and dad businesses who are continuing to juggle chainsaws during these times, just to stay open,” Mr Martoo said.
“Let’s put some real investment into the real regions. Real grants for small business that are awarded on each individual applications merit. Real funding to build transport corridors from the food bowls to ports and airports. Real funding for water infrastructure to give greater diversification in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Mrs Frecklington also noted that around 97% of Queensland’s small businesses have not received a dollar of coronavirus payroll tax relief from the Palaszczuk Labor Government as their annual wage bills do not meet the $1.3m payroll tax threshold.
“And then there’s the QRIDA COVID-19 Small Business loans mess, which closed to new applicants without warning on April 18. I know many businesses spent money to put in applications and were left worse off for having tried to apply,” Deb said.
The Palaszczuk Labor Government has today used coronavirus as an excuse to delay the implementation of their own drought reforms.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the coronavirus should be a catalyst for fast-tracking drought support for Queensland farmers, not delaying it.
“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t made the drought go away and our farmers need help now more than ever,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Drought and water security remain among the biggest issues facing Queenslanders.
“Labor have clearly pushed reform beyond the October 31 election because they don’t have a plan for water security and drought is not a priority.”
Ms Frecklington said water security projects were a key part of the LNP’s economic plan to get Queensland working again.
“The LNP is backing major dam projects in regional Queensland, including the visionary New Bradfield Scheme,” she said.
“The New Bradfield Scheme is a bold and ambitious project which will help drought-proof Queensland and get its economic X-factor back.
“It will deliver tens of thousands of new jobs, more water for farmers, a new food-bowl in the outback bigger than Tasmania, and enough hydro-electric power for 800,000 homes.
“The LNP understands that water means jobs and land without water is worthless.
“Only the LNP has a plan for water security and to get Queensland working again.”
Despite 67.4 per cent of Queensland being drought-declared, Labor Minister Mark Furner today said the implementation of Drought Program Reforms had been postponed until 1 July 2021.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said Queensland farmers had been seeking drought reform for years.
“It is now crystal clear that Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor have no drought policy whatsoever,” Mr Perrett said.
“Labor’s only plan for drought it to slash $50 million in drought subsidies while also abolishing fodder freight payments.
“The LNP is standing shoulder to shoulder with farmers and we’ve ruled out passing on these heartless cuts.
“Just as we have seen with other important issues for Queensland farmers like electricity tariffs and water prices, Labor has put drought reform in the too-hard basket and pushed it past the election.”
Mr Perrett said Mark Furner commissioned an independent report into drought reform in 2018, which report he did not release until June 2019.
“At the time, Mark Furner said he would work with farmers and their representative groups to roll out new reforms by 2021*,” he said.
“This consultation never happened** and there never was any intention of actually delivering the reform Labor promised farmers at the height of drought.
“Mark Furner clearly has no idea and this drought deferral only again reinforces his disastrous reputation in rural and regional Queensland,” Mr Perrett said.
As well as the New Bradfield Scheme, the LNP’s plan for dams includes Nullinga Dam near Cairns, Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton, raising the Burdekin Falls Dam wall, Emu Swamp Dam near Stanthorpe and Urannah Dam near Mackay.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington today called for an immediate halt to the tearing down of the Paradise Dam wall after the Commission of Inquiry’s report into the dam recommended that further testing be completed.
“The report states that the former Labor Government charged with constructing the dam failed in its basic responsibility to ensure a proper and adequate build,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The report highlights issues around the project’s management, materials and methods which make for sobering reading.
“The lack of proper peer revision was cited as a major example of the failed construction process. The construction project was flawed from the top down.
“The buck stops with former Premier Peter Beattie and the former Labor Government that rushed the construction and cut corners to save time and money.
“The report endorses the expert advice the LNP has relied upon in calling for further testing to be undertaken before the wall is torn down.
“The fact that the Palaszczuk Labor Government has accepted the Commission’s findings, including that there needs to be more testing, is an endorsement of the LNP’s plan for Paradise Dam.
“It is time for Labor to abandon its plan to spend $100 million tearing down the wall when clearly more testing is urgently needed.”
In response to the findings of the investigation, the LNP has committed to working with experts, including Dr Paul Rizzo, to fix Paradise Dam.
A Deb Frecklington LNP Government will:
An LNP government would also investigate and progress more upstream and downstream water storage options, reflecting the party’s plan for future water security in Queensland.
LNP Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said the report provided the region’s residents with more evidence that Labor’s imminent demolition of the dam wall is unnecessary.
“The Bundaberg Regional Council and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers commissioned a study which found $2.4 billion would be wiped from the Queensland economy over the next 30 years if Paradise Dam was lowered,” Mr Bennett said.
“Labor is treating the people of Wide Bay with complete contempt, as they have done throughout the whole Paradise Dam saga.
“The decision to pull down the dam will have huge repercussions for jobs and locals deserve the truth.
“Labor is more interested in covering up its botched building of the dam rather than in protecting the community and jobs.”
Member for Bundaberg David Batt said the people of Wide Bay deserved water security.
“It’s unacceptable that Labor only has a plan to tear down the dam and no plan to fix it,” Mr Batt said.
“Labor’s handling of Paradise Dam from day one has been scandalous and has been a kick in the guts for our economy.”
Member for Callide Colin Boyce said the Palaszczuk Labor Government was anti-regions, anti-dams and anti-jobs.
“Only the LNP has a plan for the future to deliver water security for Queensland,” Mr Boyce said.
“Fixing Paradise Dam and exploring all options both downstream and upstream are priorities for the LNP.
“If you have water you have jobs, it’s that simple. Queensland needs more dams and weirs, not less.
“Labor’s demolition job must be stopped.”
The Commission of Inquiry report can be downloaded at: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5620T801.pdf
The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s plan to tear down Paradise Dam even further is another devastating blow to local jobs and the economic future of the Wide Bay-Burnett region, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said today.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government should be stopping the dam wall being torn down, not tearing it down even further,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Securing local jobs and providing job security is the biggest issue in Queensland and once again the Palaszczuk Labor Government is tone deaf to the economic concerns of this region.
“Labor demolishing the dam further will deal another devastating blow to the economic security of the Wide Bay-Burnett region.
“The capacity of Paradise Dam will be slashed by four per cent if Labor lowers it more than five metres.
“Local growers say this will increase the economic impact of Labor’s decision to $2.7 billion.
“The region simply cannot afford to lose jobs, lose money and lose its water security as well.”
Ms Frecklington said Labor needed to look closely at the independent advice of US dam expert Dr Paul Rizzo, who has reported that the dam can be repaired for $25 million.
“An LNP Government will work with experts such as Dr Paul Rizzo to fix Paradise Dam,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Water means jobs and now more than ever jobs are desperately needed in the Bundaberg region.
“The only way to protect local jobs, safeguard the region’s water security and stop Paradise Dam from being torn down is to change the government.”