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Local News - August 2020

Labor’s secret 38% cut to Rural Firies exposed

24th August 2020

The LNP is demanding the Palaszczuk Labor Government reverse its disgraceful decision to rip another $7m from the budget of Queensland’s Rural Fire Brigades.

The shocking funding cut means Labor will have slashed spending on rural firies by $20m in just two years – from $52m in 2018-19 to just $32m this financial year (a 38% cut).

The Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland (RFBAQ) has been notified of the funding cut, but Labor has made no public announcement (see link below).

LNP Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar said Labor was using its decision to cancel the State Budget to impose spending cuts by stealth.

“This is a devastating and demoralising blow to our rural firies just as the bushfire season is beginning,” Mr Millar said.

“To cut $20 million from our volunteers brigades is reckless beyond belief.

“Just a year ago these men and women were on the frontline of a horrific bushfire season – and they were giving their all for nothing.

“This is a kick in the guts for those brave firies and Labor should hang their heads in shame.

“These cuts means less money for training, less money for fire trucks and less money for equipment. No wonder volunteers are walking away from our rural brigades.”

Mr Millar said the heartless funding cuts came after the Palaszczuk Labor Government failed to meet its annual hazard reduction targets in the lead-up to the horror 2019-20 bushfire season.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government completed only 54 per cent of planned burns between 2016-19.

Queensland also saw a 40 per cent decrease in the number of fire breaks being built, as well as a 45 per cent reduction in bushfire community education.

“All this is on top of the botched blue card fiasco, which resulted in Labor sending 4,700 termination letters to rural firies threatening their termination,” Mr Millar said.

“The ongoing saga as resulted in thousands of rural fire brigade volunteers choosing to leave in disgust at how the process was handled.”

In contrast to Labor’s cuts and confusion, the LNP has announced a 10-point bushfire mitigation plan, which includes restoring local control to rural fire brigades as well as establishing a dedicated Rural Fire Board.

“A Deb Frecklington LNP Government will treat rural firies with the respect they deserve and provide them with the equipment they need to keep our communities safe,” Mr Millar said.

Queensland’s 1,400 rural fire brigades comprise more than 33,000 volunteers and cover 93 per cent of the state.

NB: The Rural Fire Brigade Association Queensland’s reaction to the cuts is online at:

The LNP’s 10-point bushfire mitigation plan

  • One-stop-shop for streamlined approval process: The LNP will establish a single point of contact for all landholders (local, state and federal) to answer and enable bushfire mitigation inquiries, as recommended by the 2018 IGEM report.
  • Deemed approval after 15 business days under a "right to burn" model: Properly made applications will be automatically approved after 15 business days to give landholders and councils certainty. This will stop permits getting lost in bureaucratic process and restore accountability and bring certainty to landholders and allow government to scale up or down resources to respond to demands for permits.
  • New KPIs to achieve 98 per cent of hazard reduction activities: There are currently no KPIs holding government departments to account on hazard reduction burns, the creation of firebreaks and community education. Between 2016 and 2019, Only 54% of hazard reduction burns planned have been completed. There’s also been a 30 per cent reduction in completed overall hazard reduction activities.
  • Indigenous rangers to undertake traditional burning: The LNP will trial a traditional burning program run by indigenous rangers. The program won’t replace Rural Fire Brigades’ role in managing and coordinating hazard reduction burns. It will compliment pre-existing efforts by combining traditional and modern burning practices. Blending cultural and modern burning techniques has proven successful and should be expanded. 
  • Establish a Natural Disaster Cabinet Committee to monitor preparations: The group will be chaired by the Emergency Services Minister and QFES Commissioner. It will monitor the progress of state departments and landholders conducting hazard reduction activities.
  • Monitored grazing in state forests, some national parks to manage fuel loads: The 2018 IGEM report cited grazing as a measure used in conjunction with a suite of hazardreduction measures. Grazing will be monitored to protect the environment but also managefuel loads.
  • Establish metropolitan-based Rural Fire Volunteer brigades: Just like in Sydney and Melbourne where brigades exist that are operated by volunteer firefighters that can be called on during extreme bushfire events to surge capacity, a similar model should be investigated in Queensland to make use of the large number of SEQ based volunteers.
  • Restore local control to Rural Fire brigades: This will restore recent management structure changes that pushed local fire brigades under the reporting authority of regional urban fire groups.
  • Establish a Rural Fire Board: The Rural Fire Board will be made up of respected rural fire brigade members from across Queensland as well as members appointed by the Government. Future policy direction or matters that affect brigades and volunteers would need to be accepted or made workable by this representative board.
  • Review of aerial firefighting capability: A review and stock take of aviation fire assets in Queensland to ensure the state’s capacity will accommodate future increased fire risks.

LNP to deliver fair and balanced landscape laws

20th August 2020

An LNP Government will review and reform Queensland’s landscape management laws to support more regional jobs and protect the state’s valuable eco-systems.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said her aim was to restore balance to Labor’s flawed laws, allowing Queensland to both improve food security and create more jobs for young people growing up in the bush.

“The LNP’s plan for Queensland will support our regions by building the New Bradfield Scheme and developing water infrastructure projects across our state,” Ms Frecklington said.

“I want Queensland to produce more food and fibre to make our country less reliant on overseas imports and create more jobs here at home.

“But the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s unfair and unworkable anti-farmer laws have hurt agriculture and destroyed jobs in our regions.

“That’s why the LNP is committed to reviewing and reforming Labor’s laws.

“The LNP will restore balance to our laws and deliver a long-term, sensible environmental landscape management policy for all Queenslanders.”

LNP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last said an LNP Government would launch the consultation process within its first 30 days, with the intention of delivering the review’s findings by mid-2021.

Mr Last said an LNP Government’s approach would be based on:

  • Providing certainty of process to encourage investment
  • Acknowledging and accommodating Queensland’s diverse and varied biodiverse ecological regions
  • Restoring sensible property rights for landholders
  • Supporting regional economic development, jobs and food security
  • Considering the impacts of drought, bushfires and flooding

“If elected in October an incoming LNP Government will work with all agricultural, community and environmental stakeholders throughout this review,” Mr Last said.

“This will ensure our vitally-important environmental assets are protected, while allowing new jobs to be created in agriculture.

“These laws will fix the issues farmers have faced around harvesting fodder during this devastating drought, as well as supporting landholders in undertaking appropriate bushfire mitigation activities.”

Mr Last said the review would address a number of specific issues of concern to farmers, including:

  • Administrative accountability from government departments
  • Restoring sensible ‘right to enter’ requirements to protect landholder property rights
  • A sensible definition of high-value regrowth vegetation
  • Opportunities for considered and economically significant agricultural development
  • The development of a Landscape Restoration Code
  • The re-establishment of mulga and fodder area management plans with balanced self-assessable codes
  • Improving the quality of vegetation mapping in Queensland
  • The development of common-sense laws to allow for appropriate bushfire mitigation clearing

“Only an LNP Government will introduce balanced laws that secure the future of farmers and regional communities,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Only the LNP has a plan to stimulate the economy, create a decade of secure jobs and drag Queensland out of this recession.”

Labor abandons Queensland’s SES

20th August 2020

Revelations that Queensland’s once proud State Emergency Service (SES) is haemorrhaging volunteers and facing systemic decline under the Palaszczuk Labor Government is sounding alarm bells as the state enters the upcoming bushfire, storm, flood and cyclone season.

A parliamentary Question on Notice asked by LNP Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar* has revealed that in the past five years nearly 1000 volunteers have walked from the SES.

“A 15 per cent slump in SES membership under the Palaszczuk Labor Government is unforgivable,” Mr Millar said.

“The question also revealed that more than 20 SES branches had closed throughout the state in the last 5 years.

“It’s clear that the SES is in crisis and volunteers are choosing to walk in droves.

“Most concerningly is the locations of where these SES branches have closed.

“Eight of these branches have been in the Mackay region and the recent closure in the Redlands is alarming due to the large population base.

“We know things are not in a good way because Labor Minister Craig Crawford has a secret $250,000 review into the SES structures and culture but refuses to release it to the public**.

“It’s time for the Palaszczuk Labor Government to come clean and release the SES review for the sake of the thousands of volunteers crying out for action.

“Queenslanders and our SES Volunteers deserve to know what went wrong and who is responsible.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk Labor Government has overseen the decline of SES in Queensland.

“With Queensland’s tendency for natural disasters we would expect the state to be ready to deal with upcoming bushfire, storm, flood and cyclones.

“Queenslanders are being placed at unnecessary risk due to this Labor Government’s incompetence and mismanagement ahead of the start of the natural disaster season.”

* Question on Notice No. 771:

** Question on Notice No. 625:

Labor leaves Timber Industry Plan hanging

19th August 2020

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has once again shown they’re all talk and no action, as the Timber Industry Plan remains in limbo.

LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett said Labor say one thing in Maryborough but act differently in Brisbane.

“Nearly a year ago Annastacia Palaszczuk went to Maryborough to try and quell her disaffected regional backbench by announcing a timber plan, but it’s all spin and no action,” Mr Perrett said.

“The Palaszczuk Labor Government hasn’t even established the timber advisory group that was supposed to be responsible for overseeing and working with the industry about a sustainable economic future.

“This $3.8 billion industry supports 25,000 direct and indirect Queensland jobs and now more than ever it needs economic leadership and a plan.

“The LNP has a bold vision to make Queensland Australia’s economic powerhouse again; the best place to get a job and get ahead.

“An LNP government will implement our economic plan for a decade of secure jobs which includes supporting and growing the state’s forestry industry, to get Queensland working again and drag Queensland out of the recession.

“The foundations of the LNP’s plan for a stronger economy and secure jobs are investing for growth in sustainable and secure industry’s like forestry to unleash Queensland industry by supercharging the regions and securing our children’s future.”

Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens said “Since the announcement, we are alarmed by the lack of progress on the supply options study and priority that should be given to the issue of native forest resource security for the hardwood industry.”

LNP backs jobs with major Warrego Highway upgrade

18th August 2020

An LNP Government will make the Warrego Highway safer and create hundreds of new construction jobs with a $75m upgrade of the road between Toowoomba and Ipswich.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the upgrade was part of her party’s SEQ Congestion Program – a $1billion stimulus program of new road projects to create jobs and drag Queensland out of recession.

Federal LNP Member for Wright Scott Buchholz has secured $60m of Commonwealth funding for the upgrade and an LNP State Government will deliver the outstanding $15m required for the project to proceed.

“Only the LNP has a plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs by delivering new infrastructure projects like the Warrego Highway upgrade,” Ms Frecklington said.

“The Warrego Highway upgrade is just one part of the LNP’s job-creating, congestion-busting program of new road and rail projects across South-East Queensland.

“The upgrade will make the road safer, cut congestion and create hundreds of new construction jobs.

“With more than 234,000 Queenslanders out of work, this is the kind of project that governments should be delivering – but Labor has no Budget and no economic plan for Queensland.

“Unlike Labor, the LNP will work with the Morrison Federal Government to create jobs and drag Queensland out of recession.”

Ms Frecklington said the LNP would streamline the procurement process to give priority to Queensland businesses.

Full planning for a series of safety upgrades will begin immediately under an LNP Government, with the priority projects being the Warrego Highway intersections with Fairway Drive, Summerholm Road and Niemeyer Road at Hatton Vale.

Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald said an LNP Government would also improve road and pedestrian safety in Withcott.

“The LNP will construct pedestrian and vehicle connections in Withcott, which is cut by the Warrego Highway,” Mr McDonald said.

“The Withcott community is currently split by the Warrego Highway, with schools and shops on both sides.

“With the completion of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing an opportunity exists to reconnect the separated community.”

LNP Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald said 53 people had died in collisions on the Warrego Highway between Minden and Withcott from 2001 to 2018.

“People take their lives in their hands when they cross the Warrego Highway,” Mr McDonald said.

“The rising volume of traffic on the Warrego Highway has made its intersections highly dangerous, so these safety upgrades are desperately needed.

“I’ve been calling on the Palaszczuk Labor Government to step up and invest in this road, but they have ignored the problem and refused to work with the Commonwealth.

“Labor won’t upgrade the Warrego Highway, but a Deb Frecklington LNP Government will.

“The LNP’s upgrade will make this road safer, cut congestion and also create hundreds of new jobs.

“Only the LNP has a plan to stimulate the economy, create a decade of secure jobs and drag Queensland out of recession.

“Only an LNP Government will get Queensland working again.”

LNP plan to tackle the ICE epidemic

18th August 2020

A Deb Frecklington LNP Government will implement a comprehensive strategy to combat the growing ice epidemic in regional Queensland.

LNP Shadow Minister for Health Ros Bates said the LNP will deliver more local treatment services, with four rehabilitation and detox centres in Townsville, Wide Bay, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.

“The LNP is determined to reverse the trend of ice addition and we will tackle this issue head-on,” Ms Bates said in Townsville today.

“The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report* found ice addition is rising across regional Queensland and has infiltrated throughout small towns.

“This dangerous drug is ripping Queensland families apart.

“Only an LNP Government has a plan that provides more treatment, more education and more awareness.

“These additional detox centres will help protect regional communities by offering the support and services needed to break the cycle of addiction.

“As a nurse, I’ve seen first-hand how this drug destroys lives and ruins communities.

“Only the LNP has a comprehensive plan to keep the Townsville community safe.”

LNP Candidate for Mundingburra Glenn Doyle said ice use is a shocking cycle that needs breaking.

“Cars get stolen, houses robbed and businesses broken into just so people can feed their habit,” Mr Doyle said.

“The LNP’s plan to for more rehab and detox treatment services centre in Townsville is a major step forward for this city.

“As a police officer, I’ve been on the frontline and witnessed how ice ruins lives.

“I’m proud that the LNP has a plan in place to help regional Queensland communities deal with this awful problem that sees innocent people get caught in the crossfire.

“The LNP has committed to tougher crime laws, 60 extra police officers in Townsville and a dedicated police helicopter to help keep us safe.”

LNP’s comprehensive plan to tackle the ICE epidemic:

  • Increased local treatment services with four new regional drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres, with additional detox facilities
  • More education and awareness with a state-wide campaign targeting high-risk demographics
  • Targeted prevention, with more mental health support and drug addiction services
  • Focused law enforcement with additional drug detective squads restricting supply and partnering with federal law enforcement agencies to crackdown on organised crime gangs
  • Better research and data to ensure policy is keeping pace with emerging trends


Labor slams door on drought-stricken farmers

11th August 2020

The Palaszczuk Labor Government is slamming the door on desperate farmers by closing or cutting the opening hours at 18 regional Department of Agriculture and Fisheries offices.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the DAF offices provide farmers with vital face-to-face help when applying for drought assistance or seeking advice on complex biosecurity issues.

An internal document leaked by public servants states that the covid crisis has given DAF a ‘unique opportunity’ to review its ‘service delivery model’ – by slashing support for farmers.

“At a time when drought-stricken farmers are looking for more assistance from the government, Labor is slashing their services after a secret review,” Ms Frecklington said.

“This is clearly a cost-cutting exercise because Annastacia Palaszczuk has lost control of the state’s finances and our debt is surging towards $100 billion.

“With two-thirds of Queensland in drought it is disgraceful that Labor is using covid as an excuse to slash services to the bush.”

The cuts will hit offices in:

Kingaroy, Bundaberg, Mackay, Boonah, Charleville, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Dalby, Emerald, Gayndah, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Longreach, Maryborough, Roma, Hermitage, Mareeba and Maroochy.

Staff have been instructed to tell angry farmers that their services will be replicated through a help hotline and ‘digital service delivery’.

“Everyone in regional areas who has experienced the loss of banking and postal services through a ‘digital transition’ knows this means less services,” Ms Frecklington said.

“I’m calling on Annastacia Palaszczuk to stop these cruel regional service cuts.

“Unlike Labor, an LNP Government I lead will back our farmers and supercharge the regions.

“The LNP’s plan for more dams and water price cuts will help farmers produce the food and fibre we need to become more self-sufficient and create a decade of secure jobs.”

Labor using covid to hide wait list blow-out

6th August 2020

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has been accused of a covid-19 cover-up after it was revealed Queensland Health is using the pandemic to keep patients off surgery waiting lists.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington condemned the policy after meeting with a 79-year-old Hervey Bay patient who has been refused a place on the waiting list to see an orthopaedic surgeon.

The man, who has to take daily painkillers after injuring his shoulder in a fall, was told by Wide Bay Hospitals and Health Service that he was being kept off the list due to the ‘unprecedented impact’ of covid-19.

“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is using covid-19 to cover up the waiting list crisis in Queensland Health,” Ms Frecklington said.

“The number of people wait for surgery in Hervey Bay has soared by 51% under Labor ¬– and that was before the covid-19 crisis began.

“Coronavirus is a big challenge for our hospitals, but that is no reason for patients to be kept off waiting lists – especially when they are suffering terrible pain.

“Every patient who needs surgery should be on the official waiting list.

“This policy has nothing to do with patient care.

“This policy is about protecting the Palaszczuk Labor Government.”

LNP Candidate for Hervey Bay Steve Coleman said Labor was creating a ‘waiting list for the waiting list’ to disguise its health failures.

“Everyone in Hervey Bay is grateful for the work our nurses and doctors have done in protecting our community,” Mr Coleman said.

“However, the Palaszczuk Labor Government cannot be allowed to fudge health figures.

“Labor’s record on waiting times is abysmal and they are using covid-19 to cover it up.”

LNP Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said his elderly constituent’s GP had written an urgent referral to Wide Bay HHS after assessing his injuries.

A letter from the HHS to the patient said his case had been classified as Category 3, with an appointment recommended within 365 days.

But the letter added that because Category 3 appointments were being impacted by covid-19, the hospital was unable to add the patient to the waiting list.

“Our hospital does fantastic work, but Labor’s Health Minister has a track record of lying to Queenslanders,” Mr Sorensen said.

“If someone is waiting for surgery they should be on the waiting list – no ifs, no buts.

“If and when this gentleman gets on the list, he may still have to wait a year just for an appointment.

“Labor is failing patients and lying to public. Queenslanders deserve better.”

Ms Frecklington said an LNP Government would partner with the private sector to slash surgery waiting lists and ensure patients are seen on time.

“Our hard-working nurses, doctors, midwives and paramedics need more help on the frontline to improve patient care,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Only an LNP Government will slash waiting times and put patient care first.”

Report reveals more child safety failures

5th August 2020

A new report by Queensland’s Auditor-General has exposed major failings in the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s child protection system.

LNP Shadow Minister for Child Safety Stephen Bennett said the report was further proof that Labor could not be trusted to protect Queensland’s most vulnerable children.

“Labor’s child safety system is broken,” Mr Bennett said.

“The coronial report into the death of toddler Mason Jett Lee showed us that drastic reform is required and this new report confirms that once again.

“Labor’s failings are putting kids at risk. The LNP will overhaul the child safety system from the top down.”

The Auditor-General’s report found that:

  • Some service centres do not sight children within a month of receiving a harm report (the recommended period is 10 days).
  • The median time the south-west regional intake service took to screen child harm reports in 2018-19 was 304% higher than in 2013-14 (up from one day, five hours to four days, 20 hours).
  • Department of Child Safety staff in four out of five regions reported concerns over a lack of induction and ongoing training for child safety officers.
  • Almost 25% of children in care have had at least six placements, with 6% (626 children) having had between 11 and 20 placements.
  • The Department of Child Safety publishes misleading information about the length of time taken to commence investigations, neglecting to state that the time taken to commence an investigation includes three days to screen a report of harm.

Mr Bennett said an LNP Government would address the system’s failings by creating a new Child Protection Force.

“The focus of the LNP’s Child Protection Force will be on protection,” Mr Bennett said.

“We will overhaul the system entirely and ensure it runs 24 hours a day, with a dedicated team of police investigators to clear the backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases.

“The LNP’s Child Protection Force will adopt a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service to ensure proper oversight and accountability.

“A rapid response team will be on standby for after-hours support.

“There will also be increased transparency and accountability, as well more resources and training to help frontline staff protect children.”

Key changes under the LNP’s plan to protect kids will be:

  • Overhauling the Department of Child Safety and renaming it the Child Protection Force, which will operate as a stand-alone agency, 24 hours a day.
  • Adopting a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
  • Compulsory drug testing with no second chances to combat escalating drug addiction and to hold parents accountable for caring for their children.
  • Recruiting more foster carers to work with local service centres and create more emergency care options.
  • Calling in police investigators to clear backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases, with a focus on monitoring kids under 5.
  • Extending payments to foster carers for children in care until age 21 under a $4 million two-year trial bringing Queensland in-line with most other states.

“It is time to put a stop to the child abuse horror stories we’ve all seen under Labor,” Mr Bennett.

“It’s clear that only an LNP Government will make child protection a priority.”

Link to report: