Weekly Speak CEO Column
Fire and forbearance
By Acting CEO Sarah Buckler
If there is one place that needs no reminding of the importance of co-operation and forward planning in dealing with emergencies and disasters it is Queensland. Over the past 12 months, our beautiful state has had to deal with fire, flood, drought and now more fire, each event close to unprecedented in severity and scope.
The systems in place to ensure local communities are protected from the worst of such catastrophic events have been tested like never before. But those systems have prevailed. Where mistakes have been made, they have not been repeated. Where things did not go according to plan, lessons have been heeded. These systems gain their strength from their adaptability and are a credit to those who have conceived and implemented them.
This week’s bushfire emergencies on the Granite Belt, the Gold Coast hinterland and on the Sunshine Coast could have resulted in a lot more property damage (and worse, fatalities) were it not for a thorough and resolute response from State agencies and local governments. Local Disaster Management Groups worked well with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, the police and other relevant departments.
The leadership and forbearance of local mayors Tracy Dobie, Greg Christensen and Tony Wellington as well as deputy mayor Tim Dwyer were inspiring. Mayor Christensen even took to song as a way of thanking the firefighters battling the blazes within the Scenic Rim.
After a decade of unrelenting drought, punctuated by intense floods, monstrous cyclones and bushfire in parts of the State and times of the year never before recorded, one might be given to think that local communities in Queensland are close to breaking point.
In fact, they are stronger and better prepared for the next emergency or natural disaster, and the one after that. Feeding this strength is the willingness of councils and the State Government to review and refine the way they go about dealing with such threats. But another big factor is the way disaster management in Queensland leverages the unique knowledge and experience of local governments to ensure fast, effective responses to the crisis at hand. As always, local knowledge makes the difference.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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