Rocky hopelessly exposed to fires
ROCKHAMPTON was left “hopelessly exposed” to the bushfires that threatened homes on the edge of Mount Archer National Park in October, because less than 7% of the wilderness area was cool-burned this year, the State Opposition claimed yesterday.
Ted Malone, the Member for Mirani, has repeatedly attacked the Government for doing too little too late to stop the devastating blazes that burned for more than a week and destroyed thousands of acres of the park.
He said Climate Change Minister Kate Jones had admitted in a parliamentary answer that just 824 hectares of the 12,000 hectare Berserker Wilderness Area, had been cool burned in 2009.
“It really shows that the devastating wildfires were always going to happen because nowhere near enough cool-burning was done,” he said.
Mr Malone claimed it was standard practice in other states to pattern-burn 25 to 30% of wilderness areas as a precaution against bushfires. He also alleged Ms Jones had ignored repeated warnings from her own staff and residents that far more needed to be done.
“Warnings were ignored until it was too late and so it became only a matter of time before the wildfires started.”
Vast areas of the park had been destroyed and the heat was so intense that many areas of unique flora and fauna would never recover, he claimed.
“The Government says it’s committed to protecting national parks, but looking at the destruction from the Rockhampton wildfires, it’s hard to imagine how,” he said.
In her answer to a question on notice, Ms Jones said preparations for this year’s fire season at Mount Archer included the maintenance of 21 kilometres of fire breaks, 5.7kilometres of which were on private land.
A spokesman for her office yesterday dismissed Mr Malone’s claims as “utter rubbish”.
“Once again he has shown his ignorance of fire management. You simply can’t compare percentages because each piece of land varies in terms of vegetation, fuel on the ground and past burns.
“Mr Malone went to this year’s election with a policy to cut jobs and is now criticising the work of the very people he was going to sack.
“If the LNP was governing right now there would be 25 fewer rangers on the ground doing controlled burns, fighting fires and protecting homes.”
Related: Fire bans extended across Qld
Read more about fires in Rockhampton.
Do you know what to do in the advent of a fire? Read Qld bushfire safety tips.