CQ firey says compo should be nationwide
"THAT'S a kick in the guts" was Central Queensland rural fire-fighter Jason Polzin's first reaction to news that his NSW counterparts would be given access to up to $6000 through a compensation scheme.
Not for one second did the Calliope Rural Fire Brigade first officer begrudge volunteer fire-fighters south of the border - he just believes there should be no borders when it comes to providing relief.
"It makes you feel like you're in a different country being in Queensland," Mr Polzin said.
"You know, what's the difference - an imaginary line in the dirt?
"If other states get compensation and we don't, I don't know how that's going to work."
According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the weekend, the Queensland Government needed to request a similar scheme from the Federal Government if it wanted to.
Previously Queensland had sought a nationwide scheme but on Monday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she wanted Queensland volunteers to receive the same Federal Government compensation as NSW.
Mr Polzin backed having one scheme.
"I've been in the brigade for seven years and I've been in strike teams where you go to other areas.
"I've been to Townsville for fires and floods and they're a five-day deployment so you're away from work for that time.
"Some people get deployed interstate."
Mr Polzin, a construction worker, isn't working currently so that means he relies on the cattle he runs on three properties at Calliope to earn a living.
Recently, while he was away battling blazes, one of his cows got stuck in the mud at a drying-up waterhole and died.
The weekend before last, another heifer in calf found herself in the same predicament but fortunately Mr Polzin was home this time to rescue her and prevent another $1500 loss.
"If I wasn't fighting fires that first time, I wouldn't have lost that $1500 cow basically.
"Obviously any compensation we could receive while we're away fighting fires would be good, it would help.
"My farm, which is my livelihood right now, does get neglected when I'm away fighting fires."
Mr Polzin said his brigade alone had clocked up 1500 hours' worth of fire-fighting work in the past month.
"That's people in the trucks, carrying out maintenance, the lady who answers the phone calls and organises crews - there's people behind the scenes too who don't get recognised.
"Obviously we do it to help the community out and we don't do it to get paid."
Robert Lang, Central Queensland advocate for the Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland, who represents 47 brigades in the region, said 90 per cent of volunteer fire-fighters were "too proud" to put their hands up to ask for compensation.
"The majority of them would never fess up to doing it tough," he said.
"They will compromise their own health, well-being and financial situation to do what's got to be done.
"There are people out there who are financially stressed, particularly at this time of year."