Fire-ravaged farmer backs vegetation and land management inquiry

Zach RelphCountryman
South Stirling farmer Mal Thomson alongside a section of fence damaged in the fire.
Camera IconSouth Stirling farmer Mal Thomson alongside a section of fence damaged in the fire. Credit: Laurie Benson

A South Stirling farmer re-emerging from the ashes of May’s furious bushfire which torched the Great Southern has welcomed a Federal inquiry into vegetation and land management policies.

Last week, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asked a House of Representatives inquiry, to start this month and be finalised in April, to probe the impact of vegetation practices on farmers.

It comes in the wake of the devastating blazes to sweep across Queensland this bushfire season, with more than one million hectares in the State burnt since November 22.

South Stirling grain grower and sheep producer Mal Thomson battled an inferno near Albany in May and is continuing to re-fence his property perimeter as harvest ramps up.

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Despite this year’s harsh bushfire, caused by an escaped burn, Mr Thomson said WA led the charge with land management on State-controlled lands.

However, Mr Thomson said Queensland’s recent blazes and Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 reiterated the need for improved vegetation policies in Australia.

“It does need to be looked into,” he said.

“I do think WA does it best, especially when you look at what has happened over east.

“Give us a nice controlled burn any day, I’d much rather that than something that has to be contained.”

Mr Littleproud said the Federal parliamentary inquiry into State and Territory vegetation and land management laws was sparked by Queensland’s inferno and asked: “Has lack of cool burning on State-owned land contributed to fires?”

“If Queensland’s laws are locking up agriculture’s potential and making fires worse, we need to know about it,” he said.

The Queensland Labor Government has defended its land control and management practices.

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