Ted fans the flames of blazing row

LNP emergency services spokesman Ted Malone yesterday challenged Government minister Kate Jones to call a public meeting to discuss fire risk management in Rockhampton.

Mr Malone, the Member for Mirani and a long-standing rural fire brigade member, wants Ms Jones to hear first-hand the concerns of local residents and firefighters.

“I’ve waged a campaign against the lack of action, the lack of preparedness and the failure of the minister and her advisers to listen to real concerns until it was too late,” said Mr Malone (right), who was in Rockhampton yesterday.

Last week he sparked a war of words with Ms Jones, the minister for climate change and sustainability, and her office. Ted claimed the city 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.

Ms Jones hit back saying the management of wildfires was her top priority and she had asked the fire commissioner specifically if he had any concerns about preparations and he had said no.

Mr Malone said: “Rockhampton residents, firefighters, professional and volunteers, and police know just how bad the wildfires were and the minister, if she won’t take my word for it, needs to hear it for herself.

“She needs to hear about it before it becomes a memory.”

He said the minister would go to Copenhagen as part of the large Australian contingent for climate change talks, but didn’t plan to visit Rockhampton.

Ms Jones said she worked for Member for Rockhampton, Robert Schwarten, for six years and her commitment to the region hadn’t wavered since.

“The very first regional trip I made after becoming minister was to Rockhampton,” she said.

“Mr Malone’s comments on climate change demonstrate just how out of touch he is.

“With climate change, Queensland will see more extreme weather events, including more devastating fires.

“If he thinks an international agreement to tackle climate change isn’t important, than he condemns Rockhampton and other regions to more frequent fires.”

Meanwhile, the minister’s office said she wasn’t aware of any independent investigation into the Rockhampton fires.

A spokesman said the department, which incorporated the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, was conducting its own review to determine where improvements could be made.

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