A POLITICAL tug-of-war is looming as the major political parties go head-to-head for the votes of 36,000 rural fire-fighters and their loved ones.
The LNP and Pauline Hanson's One Nation have revealed their rural fire policies and the ALP is rumoured to be preparing a big announcement on the issue as early as Monday.
The Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland last called on the major parties to throw aside their differences and provide bipartisan support for the state's 36,000-strong yellow army.
The association wants the roll-out of a Volunteer Respect Act to guarantee brigades are consulted about issues directly affecting them; a commitment for the Emergency Management Fire and Rescue Levy to be distributed to brigades so they have a sustainable funding base; implementation of outcomes from the Malone Review; volunteers listed as "fire service officers" in Queensland Fire and Emergency Services legislation; and a clear, legislative workable definition of the legal status of brigades.
The LNP is the only party to directly acknowledge the RFBAQ's wish list with fire emergency services spokesman Tim Mander confirming he would work to provide "greater legal certainty for volunteers".
The Opposition has also committed itself to a $10-million emergency volunteers' fund to "build greater local community support and resilience".
"We are happy to work with the RFBAQ and provide greater legal certainty and recognition for volunteers," Mr Mander said.
"These hard-working Queenslanders deserve greater support for their sacrifice and dedication to local communities right across Queensland."
One Nation has committed itself to "decentralising decision making for rural fire regions" in its four-point policy.
The controversial party, led in Queensland by former LNP MP Steve Dickson, has also promised to:
- Develop region-specific fire plans;
- Roll out a ministerial advisory council to liaise with the fire and emergency services minister on areas like regional control, funding, training and equipment; and
- Recognise "the need for experienced incident controllers" while "encouraging" local firefighters to up-skill by undertaking more training.
"Should One Nation secure sufficient support at the election to influence government decisions, we would immediately deliver accountability and responsibility back to local people," Mr Dickson said in the policy outline.
"We believe prevention is better than cure."
NewsRegional believes the ALP will make a significant announcement, possibly on Monday, regarding RFBAQ's policy call-out.
"The RFBAQ's letter is being considered," spokesman for the party said.
"Labor will respond in due course." - NewsRegional