LNP leader Deb Frecklington launching a 10-point bushfire plan at Brookfield Rural Fire Brigade. Picture: AAP/John Gass
LNP leader Deb Frecklington launching a 10-point bushfire plan at Brookfield Rural Fire Brigade. Picture: AAP/John Gass

Call for burn-off KPIs to tackle bushfire crisis

FIRE managers would be set "KPIs'' to ensure they met burn-off targets, after revelations last week that the State Government had failed to meet its targets for the past four years in a row. State LNP leader Deb Frecklington outlined a 10-point bushfire plan on Monday at the Brookfield Rural Fire Service (RFS) headquarters.

One key point was to set up more urban-based RFS brigades. Several, such as one at Moggill in Brisbane's inner west, near the Brookfield RFS, have been closed in recent years.

Large landowners would also be granted "deemed approval'', after 15 business days, under a "right to burn'' model.

At the moment, westside landowners on more than 4000 sqm have to write to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) for permission to conduct burn-offs, which have to be carried out by qualified people.

Ms Frecklington also said an LNP State Government would set up key performance indicators (KPIs) in an effort to achieve 98 per cent of burn-off targets.

"There are currently no KPIs holding government departments to account on hazard-reduction burns,'' Ms Frecklington said.

"Only 54 per cent of hazard reduction burns planned have been completed.

"There's also been a 30 per cent reduction in completed overall hazard reduction activities."

Last week a Question on Notice revealed only 117 of 168 planned burns in 2019 were actually carried out.

Of the 177 planned burns in 2018, 69 were completed, 131 of the 225 planned burns were undertaken in 2017 while 122 of the 242 planned burns in 2016 were done.

Environment Minister and Acting Fire and Emergency Services Minister Leeanne Enoch said less time to reduce hazards was something the LNP found difficult to grasp while they argued about the legitimacy of climate change and its real-world impact on rural Queensland.

"The Palaszczuk Government has approved on average 27,463 hazard reduction permits each year since 2015. Our highest year was 28,655 permits - 1300 more than the LNP's highest," she said.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said "one of the main reasons" for such catastrophic bushfires here and in southern states was because state-owned land hadn't been ­managed properly.

"There are many old-timers, there are many people, including our indigenous elders, who are saying that they have evidence that grazing in national parks, if managed properly, is a very good way of controlling the amount of hazard," she said.

Opposition Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Lachlan Miller said the move would reduce fuel loads and benefit local economies.

"We're not looking at opening it up to every national park across Queensland, what we're looking to do is looking at state forest areas and certain national parks that used to have grazing," he said.

The plan would also allow landholders and councils to burn on their land 15 business days after an application was made to stop bureaucratic hold-ups under a "right to burn" model.

Ms Enoch said 10-point plans were for pamphlets.

"We're well past the time when politics are welcome in the discussion about bushfires," she said.

Ms Enoch said that many of the policies, such as grazing to reduce fuel loads and using indigenous methods, were already done.

The 10-point plan also called for:

- A national disaster Cabinet committee to monitor bushfire preparedness, to be chaired by the Emergency Services Minister and QFES Commisisoner;

- restoring local control to rural fire brigades

- a review of aerial firefighting capability:

- establishment of a rural fire board, made up of elected, statewide rural fire brigade members;

- establishment of a single point of contact for landholders and councils to submit all bushfire mitigation inquiries and permits.

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