Bushfires ignite urgent call to change Queensland laws
CALLS for an urgent review of legislation that stops farmers from reducing fuel loads on surrounding land have ignited while fierce bushfires rage in parts of Queensland and the Southern Downs.
Rural firefighters from Leyburn, Cambooya, Greymare, Warwick and Gore were called to provide emergency back-up to Karara Rural Fire Service today after a bushfire sparked concerns for the town.
A water bomber was deployed and residents were told to "prepare to leave" on Sunday, but the alert has since been downgraded to advice level while fires continue to burn.
Watching the danger unfold around the state, Killarney resident and former firefighter Tony Pearson said laws that "lock up" national parks were putting homes and houses at risk.
Mr Pearson called for the Queensland Government to reinstate leasehold title on national parks and reserves, allowing farmers to graze cattle, conduct controlled burning and manage fire risks.
"Seeing all these fires around the country, in this heat, I am pretty bloody annoyed," he said.
"Due to our hotter weather there is more risk. But if we can take out 50 per cent of the risk, shouldn't we do that?"
Amendments to Queensland's nature and conservation legislation passed in 2016, phasing out leasehold title on national park land.
Under the new laws, existing leases cannot be renewed when they expire.
Fourth-generation Killarney cattle farmer Ross Grayson disagreed with the laws, saying farmers should be allowed to graze their livestock on state-owned land with a lease.
"If farmers are allowed to run their cattle in national parks it is a two-way street," Mr Grayson said.
"It keeps the vegetation down and it helps the farmer," he said.
Mr Pearson has been fighting fires since he was a teenager and said there was not enough controlled burning in national parks.
"People say I am just trying to create anarchy by going against the laws but this is about saving homes and people," he said.
He also wants the Department of Environment and Science, which is responsible for Queensland national parks, to pay damages to adjacent landowners if they "refuse to control-burn their government land".
The Warwick Daily News contacted the Department of Environment and Science, which did not respond to request for comment.
Calls for legislation reforms come as Queensland battles some of the most intense fires the state has seen.
Karara State School was among public schools that closed today, "in the interests of student, staff and community safety".
"The Department of Education continues to work closely with fire and emergency services in relation to the management of school safety during this time while the state is still dealing with well over 100 fires," a Department of Education spokeswoman said.
"Fire and weather events may be subject to rapid change and the department continues to monitor their status and will take action in the interests of community safety," she said.
There were no Southern Downs properties directly under threat from fire at the time of reporting,
A Queensland Fire and Emergency Service spokeswoman said residents in the area should continue to stay alert and tune in to regular updates as conditions could change.
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