The catastrophic nature of the Queensland fires has been years in the making.
With over 50 km/h winds the scale and intensity of the Queensland bushfire emergency saw over 200 fires burning across the State with catastrophic destruction to communities and thousands of hectares of farmland, state forests and national parks.
In recent years the government declared some state forest leases as National Parks through the passing of The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. This was done without reference to the lessees some of whom had been on those leases since settlement.
Following this, they then brought in legislation which said that grazing cattle was incompatible with a National Park. Those families and their cattle have been or will be removed as leases expire.
The Government sees no cost in having these leases as quasi national parks as they consider that they require no management – taking away the long standing and effective fire control methods used by graziers to remove fuel loads through livestock grazing and controlled burns.
For years Government has been advised by land managers that “lock up and leave” is not an appropriate policy as unmanaged land fosters feral animals, and allows overgrowth of weeds, many of which are highly flammable. This policy approach is creating a virulent tinderbox ready to erupt into a firestorm.
Conscientious landowners construct firebreaks on their side of the fence, to the extent allowed by law, an inadequate ten metres for fire management lines, as stated in the Draft Accepted Development Vegetation Clearing Code and if you are unlucky enough to neighbour a national park such maintenance is rarely undertaken and National Parks in Queensland rarely if ever have planned burns, yet another exacerbated fire hazard.
Departmental bureaucrats tainted by emotive politics brought about by misguided and flawed green ideology, may in part be responsible for the depth of this massive conflagration, burning with such intensity native flora and fauna – perished, including koalas, possums and ancient pythons.
Rational environmental land management practices are required, including cool burns, managed grazing, firebreaks and fire containment lines which are all effective fire management tools.
There is little doubt that whatever started the fires, they burnt with far greater ferocity covering much more country than they should have, had there been good land management and fuel reduction practices in place over recent years.
Graziers hold concerns over proposed changes to legislation under consideration in Queensland affecting ownership and managment of national parks designed to attract philanthropic foreign investment.
Many of the rural firefighters who put their lives on the line to combat these fires are largely volunteers. It should also be noted that some of the heavy machinery used to aid the firefighting is privately owned by local graziers who carry out vegetation management on their own properties. We believe policy makers need to witness first-hand the devastating affects of poor management and their lack of fire control actions, so they too would advocate for changes to policy and support environmentally friendly cool burns and livestock grazing to aid fire control. We urge the Queensland Government to reconsider their policies to improve the future of overall fire management. We also applaud Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud for launching an Inquiry into the impact of vegetation and land management policies arising from the Queensland Bushfires.