Mr McEACHAN (Redlands—LNP) (9.02 pm): Just last week in my electorate, in the Carbrook area a bushfire burned for days. It cast a pall of smoke over the Redlands and forced the closure of roads. The fire was attended by rural, urban and parks fire crews, with incident management and catering supplied largely by the Gold Coast Rural Fire Brigade Group. The rural fire brigade provides an essential service for Queenslanders and, indeed, for communities across Australia. We have a responsibility to support those hardworking volunteers in their efforts to keep our communities safe.


In the Redlands, a public meeting attended by more than 100 Mount Cotton and Sheldon locals unanimously voted for the establishment of a brigade. I was disturbed to learn that this was met with strong opposition from the United Firefighters Union and some Labor members opposite. Surely as local members we have a responsibility to support positive community actions such as this, and not try to sabotage them.


On that note, I thank Minister Byrne for his recent statement of support for the establishment of the rural fire brigade at Mount Cotton and Sheldon. I look forward to working with the Redland City Council and the community on progressing this matter. The United Firefighters Union has an important role, yet it does itself a disservice with overzealous and thuggish behaviour, including the Victorian arm of the union coming to Queensland— in this very House—to oppose rural firefighters being eligible for the same compensation for cancers as their urban counterparts. That same union, led by Peter Marshall, has banned its members from taking part in a post-traumatic stress disorder trial, simply because volunteers from the rural fire brigades would be involved. This sort of ongoing dispute only serves to harm our community and does nothing to properly recognise the sacrifice made by those volunteers.


In the Redlands, we face a severe risk of bushfires, particularly in the areas of dense bushland in Mount Cotton, Sheldon, Cornubia, Carbrook and the Moreton Bay islands. Both our urban and rural firefighters serve their communities with distinction and each play their role in keeping us safe, and I applaud them one and all.


Tragically, last week a brave volunteer made the ultimate sacrifice as he battled a bushfire near Dalby. I am sure I speak on behalf of the member for Condamine and all members when I say that our thoughts are with his fellow firefighters and family.


It is time that all of us in this House support those brave men and women. This is not a matter of choosing sides; it is simply a matter of working together to ensure that our homes, businesses and families are safe. I will continue to support those hardworking emergency service workers and volunteers across the Redlands. I call on the Labor government and Minister Byrne to pledge their support and demonstrate real action by doing the same.

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