Fire disaster: Confused farmers feared breaking law
QUEENSLAND farmers were confused about their back burning rights and worried about breaching the state's vegetation management laws leading into last year's devastating central Queensland bushfires, a review has found.
The Palaszczuk Government this afternoon released reviews into the bushfires, as well as into the flooding disaster that affected Townsville and north and northwest Queensland.
It followed their consideration by Cabinet today.
Acting Inspector-General of Emergency Management Mike Shapland said among his recommendations on the bushfires was that "more clarity" was needed around landholder rights.
"People don't understand exactly what they could do and we learnt that from a variety of sources," he said.
"Landowners that we spoke to were very aware of their responsibilities under the legislation and were worried about breaching those aspects and there was some caution in terms of in their approach to back burning on that basis.
"The vegetation management exceptions which allow people to clear firebreaks … haven't changed since 2004.
"It is complicated. The intersection of legislation is worth explaining."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed more could be done to ensure landholders were aware of their backburning rights.
"There is a legitimate concern out there that we need to be more effective in getting out our message and making sure that landholders do know that they can clear, that these laws have not changed since 2004. We will put in place a very key communication awareness campaign to make sure that they are aware of their rights and their responsibilities.
Mr Shapland said of the Townsville floods that experts found the management of the Ross River Dam was correct.
Ms Palaszczuk said the reports found that significantly more flooding would have occurred if the dam did not exist.
She said the review found if increased water releases had been made earlier there would have been no "appreciable" difference to the flooding impacts.
"In essence the IGEM report states clearly that the dam was operated in accordance with the emergency action plan and that SunWater effectively communicated with the Townsville City Council and that SunWater acted on instruction from Townsville City Council as the dam owner," she said.