Monday, September 17, 2012

Firefighters protest over cuts to Qld rural fire service - ABC News

Firefighters protest over cuts to Qld rural fire service

Updated 5 hours 36 minutes ago

Volunteer firefighters in far north Queensland have threatened to let government property burn if proposed budget cuts are not scrapped.

They joined protest action outside a state Community Cabinet meeting in Cairns on Sunday.

This week, the Queensland Government announced plans to slash almost half of the paid positions in the state's Rural Fire Service as part of an austere budget.

The decision has angered volunteer firefighters, with 15 brigades in far north Queensland saying they will no longer fight fires on government land.

They have joined a protest outside a Community Cabinet meeting in Cairns, where about 200 teachers, public sector workers and gay rights activists are voicing their anger with budget cuts and policy decisions.

Premier Campbell Newman, who was given a rowdy reception at the meeting, says he is doing what is needed to reduce debt.

He says cuts to organisations such as the rural fire service have been overstated.

Today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard used an address to Labor's state conference in Brisbane to rally the party faithful to use growing anger at Mr Newman's cost cutting measures to their advantage.

"Queensland Labor has a great responsibility to fight these job cuts, to fight this conservative Government, to give Queenslanders hope, to offer them a real choice at the next state election," she said.

"[Queenslanders] are taking a long hard look at what the LNP in Government really means."

Ms Gillard warned the job cuts seen under the LNP Government could be repeated if Tony Abbott is election Prime Minister.

She says Queensland Labor "will be on the frontline" during the 2013 federal election.

But Mr Newman says Ms Gillard is being hypocritical when it comes to job cuts.

"The Federal Labor Government is sacking 12,000 people. They've got a budget with a yawning deficit that's opening up," he said.

"Isn't it time people looked at them?"

Topics: budget, liberal-national-party-queensland, community-development, regional, activism-and-lobbying, government-and-politics, federal-government, states-and-territories, cairns-4870, qld, australia, brisbane-4000

First posted Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:26pm AEST

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