LNP accuses Labor of misleading Queenslanders on rural firies budget

FIRE: Rathdowney Rural Fire Brigade first officer Ian Richter waited years for a promised upgrade to the old station, which finally got the go-ahead in May. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
FIRE: Rathdowney Rural Fire Brigade first officer Ian Richter waited years for a promised upgrade to the old station, which finally got the go-ahead in May. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

LNP Emergency Services spokesman Lachlan Millar has accused Labor exaggerating and misleading Queenslanders on the level of funding it is putting towards Rural Fire Brigades but the government says it spent $52 million to eliminate the infrastructure backlog for RFS and would continue to support rural firies.

Mr Millar said Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford had been caught red handed, after claiming there was nearly $13 million (or 25 per cent) more in the 2019-20 budget for Rural Fire.

"In March, Minister Crawford was bragging that Labor had increased Rural Fire funding 'by a third to $52 million' compared to the $39 million it inherited from the LNP in 2015,' Mr Millar said.

"But when questioned in Estimates and under parliamentary oath, Minister Crawford came clean and admitted the budget had in fact not grown at all.

"Instead it was still $39 million in 2019-20 - the same as in 2015.

"This means funding for Queensland's Rural Fire Service has stalled under the Palaszczuk Labor Government.

"With no increase to even cover CPI, this is effectively a cut.

Mr Crawford did not respond to the accusations of misleading the public leveled at him by the opposition but said the government had still delivered more than the LNP.

"Under the LNP only 100 trucks were built," he said.

"Since we were elected in 2015, the Palaszczuk government has delivered a total of 291 trucks.

"In 2018-19, we invested more than $52 million to help build 119 trucks in Queensland, to ensure that our Rural Firies had the appropriate tools to keep communities safe and provide secure local jobs."

Mr Crawford said with the accelerated fleet program finished and the backlog filled, the annual RFS budget could continue building trucks at a manageable pace while still focussing on ensuring operations could continue.

"The $39.1 million allocated in 2019-20 is still $2.1 million more than was allocated in 2014-15," he said.

Mr Millar accused the government of blaming bush fires on farmers.

"What we have here is a minister willing to say one thing in the regions, but something completely different in parliament when his Brisbane masters are giving him scripts," he said.

"We saw the contempt in which Labor held rural and regional Queenslanders by slashing Hazard Reduction Burns and then turning around blaming farmers for fueling the bushfires, in the so-called 'bushfire report'.

"Blaming farmers for being confused about backburning rights while ignoring Labor's own mismanagement of state-controlled land and national parks is a new low.

"Only the LNP will hold government agencies to account and properly fund rural fire services, so they can undertake fire mitigation activities."

This story Politicians brawl over rural fire budget first appeared on Beaudesert Times.