An aerial photo of the Cobraball bushfire aftermath.
An aerial photo of the Cobraball bushfire aftermath.

Debate on bushfire taskforces

LIVINGSTONE mayor Bill Ludwig and councillor Adam Belot clashed over the make-up of bushfire taskforces, but the latter says he got the desired result.

Cr Belot first expressed concerns in last Monday’s Morning Bulletin that the taskforce charged with overseeing environmental management did not contain enough representation from the agricultural and farming sectors.

Before he could raise the matter at last week’s council meeting, Cr Ludwig, who chairs the Local Disaster Management Group, was critical of the comments made by Cr Belot in the press.

“There was some unauthorised comment in the paper in relation to composition of one of the particular taskforces,” Cr Ludwig told fellow councillors on Tuesday.

“Every one of those taskforces has key agencies on board.”

Cr Ludwig urged Cr Belot to stick to protocol during times of natural disasters.

“When we’re in a disaster declaration, there is a thing that is called the single point of truth,” Cr Ludwig said.

“The single point of truth in messaging that is going out, first comes from QFES (Queensland Fire and Emergency Services), next comes from the chair of the LDMG.

“It is absolutely imperative that we work together as a team. This is so important that we demonstrate that, and don’t put mixed messages out to the community.”

Cr Ludwig said he also asked this of state and federal representatives.

“I ask them to recognise the function that the LDMG plays and the fact that we all have to have a level of discipline.

“And after six years, councillor (Belot), if you don’t understand that, I don’t think I can help you any more.”

Cr Belot defended the stance he took.

“I was certainly the one who was prepared to make comment to the paper, not to influence anything to do with the disaster management’s operations, but to look forward in how we’re going to make things better,” he said.

“I chaired the first environmental regulatory taskforce meeting and I observed who was on the taskforce.

“I went home and I thought, gee, I would like to see the potential for greater diversity in that taskforce.

“I believe that there should be a representative there, or a better representation from our agricultural and horticultural sectors.”

Cr Belot said he then emailed the council and sought clarification on the make-up of the taskforce.

He said he was informed that the sectors he was concerned about were already represented on the economic development taskforce - one of four set up.

“I’m sorry, I would like to see more diversity,” Cr Belot said.

“I’ve contacted the landholders out there, spoke to them direct, and I tell you what, they said 100 per cent Cr Belot, that environmental taskforce is the most important one that there is.

“And our agricultural stakeholders should be on it.

“I don’t do these things just off the bat, willy-nilly, as some suggest.

“I do it methodically and I do my due diligence.”

Cr Belot said he was trying to make a difference and it was critical to have representatives from farming, grazing and agricultural sectors on the environment management taskforce.

“I’m glad to see we’re going to have that,” he said in the wash-up to the debate.

“Albeit, it took a bit of skin off my elbows to get there, but we are now responding in a positive way and I am glad the organisation is undertaking that.”