Queensland federal politicians are taking their state counterparts to task over bushfires that burnt over one million hectares in the past fortnight, calling for an independent inquiry into the causes of the disaster which they said was exacerbated by bad state regulations.
Liberal National Senators Matthew Canavan and James McGrath, and MPs David Littleproud, George Christensen, Michelle Landry as well as Ken O’Dowd formed a united front in Canberra today to make their case.
They said poor state regulations prevented the appropriate level of fuel management in National Parks and State Forests and restrictive vegetation laws had blocked private landholders from undertaking preventative action.
Senator Canavan said Queensland farmers “need to have their voice heard” and that state government had tried to avoid scrutiny of its policies by blaming climate change for the fires.
“I note the government’s position this morning,” Mr Canavan said.
“Why are they afraid of hearing from average landholders?
“I cannot for the life of me see how the Queensland government has ruled out an inquiry. They’re treating the people of Queensland with contempt.”
Fire killed cattle and decimated feed and vegetation on the Marland family’s 1600 hectare Mt Wallaby grazing lease, west of Bundaberg, Queensland.
Queensland Agriculture Minister Anthony Lynham said an inquiry wasn’t needed and accused Mr Canavan of using a the fires for political advantage.
“I’m bloody furious over these comments,” Dr Lynham said.
“As a previous rural firefigher, seeing this politicised to the extent where not only are these comments inappropriate, they're totally wrong.
Mr Lynham said climate change had was a main driver of the fires.
“These weather events are extreme, record temperatures are being set time and time again. Climate change is real and it needs to be addressed.”
Tom Marland blamed restrictive state policies for the build-up of dangerous fuel loads.
“We don't blame parks and wildlife but we do blame the apathy and poor policies of the state government in not allowing landholders to undertake practical measures to protect against bush fires,” Mr Marland said.
“The fire burnt so hot that it destroyed 300 year old blue gums that have survived years of fires. The intensity of the fire would have killed immeasurable numbers of wildlife.”
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said land clearing laws had contributed to the extent of the fires and said indigenous burning practices should be considered in future management regimes.
“We have over one million hectares burnt out by mismanagement of land clearing and National Parks,” Mr Littleproud said.
Any inquiry should have terms of reference that take into account the State’s vegetation management laws and the increase in fuel that’s provided. Let’s put the science out there, let
“In terms of some of the practices of first Australians, we can learn a lot from them, they were doing it for thousands of years.
“Even in our farming practices we are looking to learn from them.”