National Parks issue still burns years on

View from the Paddock: Brigid Price shares her experience on bush fire response

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View from the Paddock columnist Brigid Price shares her experience on bush fire response.

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Brigid Price says without open communication and transparency, trust is lost and assumptions replace fact.

Brigid Price says without open communication and transparency, trust is lost and assumptions replace fact.

The Christmas and New Year period of 2018/19 was incredibly challenging for our community.

Celebrations were put on hold as volunteers left their families to battle fires on several fronts.

A fire that started in the neighbouring National Park burnt 15,000 acres on our property before it was extinguished.

At the time I wrote about gratitude; we couldn't believe a volunteer truck brigade heard our pleas on social media and travelled over 200kms to help.

Ours wasn't the only fire in our area and I was asked about the ongoing impact recently.

It saddens me to say this, but nearly three years on the aftermath is threatening the future of volunteer bush fire brigades in our region.

Without open communication and transparency, trust is lost and assumptions replace fact.

Today many members feel the system lacks integrity and aren't willing to put their business assets on the line to protect those of the state government. Their anger is understandable.

National Parks staff were directed not to attend the debrief meeting that followed those fires.

Three years on the issues raised that day have yet to be formally addressed.

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More importantly, the bush telegraph is aware that when things go wrong and National Parks take legal action against volunteer rural fire fighters the support from QFES appears lacking.

Volunteer brigades have members with over 50 years local knowledge.

Fires are unpredictable and in 2019 the conditions were extremely challenging.

Any judgement of the actions taken by individuals in that case pales into insignificance compared to the fallout when a government department uses it's might to pursue private individuals doing their best with the knowledge, skills and information they have at a point in time.

Water bombing planes and professional fire fighters have not historically shown up to fires in rural and regional National Parks.

Good neighbours have saved the flora, fauna and assets of commercial tourist operations.

Fatigue management and "no fire on the landscape" policies without balance have far reaching implications.

Currently, we have great communication with our local NP staff. They do their best with limited resources.

But what might happen at the next fire if someone else is in charge?

The system needs a reset.

Until then the risk is not worth the price of being a good neighbour.

- Brigid Price, Rural Resources

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