Fireys budget cut claims denied
THE Labor Party has responded to details about a $47.1 million “increase” to Rural Fire Service funding which the LNP said was a $6.4 million cut, following questions in Queensland parliament.
The news comes on the back of the devastating bushfires 12 months ago, which illustrated the desperate need for more funding to these predominantly volunteer fire-fighters.
Regional Development and Manufacturing Minister, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher, acknowledged the $6.4 million difference in comparison to the 2018-2019 RFS budget, pointing out that it was due to the inclusion of “the accelerated fleet build of 119 appliances”.
Mr Butcher said the RFS budget had not been cut and was more than last year’s budget.
“Since 2015 we have fast-tracked the delivery of more than 330 new rural fire trucks, including new appliances to brigades in the Gladstone Region,” he said.
“As announced on Tuesday, which was Yellow Ribbon Day, the budget for the Rural Fire Service for this financial year is $47.1 million, up from $40.8 million last year.
“The $53m figure is the 2018/19 figure which included the accelerated fleet build of 119 appliances.”
Queensland Rural Fire Brigades association held a meeting last month to discuss the current plight of the service.
All of the 18 regional representatives attending the meeting voted not to support the current structure of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
In a press release published at 6.43pm on September 8, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford announced an increase to the Rural Fire Service RFS budget for this year.
“The funding boost to $47.1 million will assist Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers this bushfire season,” he said.
“The 2019 bushfire season was unlike anything we’ve seen before, but thanks to our volunteer fireys, we made it through even more resilient than before.”
Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers Shadow Minister Lachlan Miller said Labor had slashed rural fire funding by $6.4 million over the past two years.
“These cuts mean less money for training, less money for fire trucks and less money for equipment,” he said.
“No wonder volunteers are walking away from our rural fire brigades.”
On Wednesday, the LNP’s Anthony Perrett asked Minister Crawford the following question in parliament.
“Will the Minister provide the total budget and actual expenditure (reported separately) for
the Rural Fire Service for 2014-15 to 2018-19 and the budget for 2019-20 (reported
separately by year)?”
The reply by Minister Crawford was: “I am advised by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) that the budget and actual expenditure for the Rural Fire Service for 2014-15 to 2019-20 is as follows.”
The budget in 2018-2019 was $52,005 million, and the actual budget was $53,533 million.
In 2019-2020, the budget was $40,839 million and the actual budget was not listed.