The Queensland Government has backed down from demands the state’s rural fire fighting volunteers secure Blue Cards by December 31, extending the deadline until the end of March because of angry opposition to the move. Pic Mark Cranitch.
The Queensland Government has backed down from demands the state’s rural fire fighting volunteers secure Blue Cards by December 31, extending the deadline until the end of March because of angry opposition to the move. Pic Mark Cranitch.

Volunteer fireys hose down Blue Card demands

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THE Queensland Government has stepped back from the brink, extending its deadline until March 31 for volunteer rural firefighters to obtain a Blue Card.

More than 15,000 volunteers have still to apply for the card, with most holding out on the December deadline because of the way the requirement was demanded and despite restrictions being placed on their access to new uniforms and equipment.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the extended deadline would give staff and volunteers "extra time to decide if they want to continue serving their local communities under these changed requirements".

"QFES will continue to make direct contact with personnel who have not yet applied for a Blue Card to determine their intentions," Mr Crawford said.

"The Palaszczuk Government remains committed to the safety of all children.

"We stand by the introduction of mandatory Blue Card screening for relevant QFES staff and volunteers.

"We also acknowledge how challenging this bushfire season has been.

"Since November 8, more than 3600 firefighters have been on the frontline battling bushfires. "We thank them for their efforts, particularly over the past two weeks.

"Across QFES, 13,742 applications have now been lodged."

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Queensland Rural Fire Brigades Association manager Justin Choveaux has written to the Premier urging her to alter course.

He has previously warned the government it was heading for an iceberg and needed to slow down.

Before the announcement Mr Choveaux said only 25 per cent of rural volunteers had signed up for a Blue Card.

"Seventy-five per cent haven't but the government is still adamant that from January 1 those serving on the trucks will be locked out," he said.

Mr Choveaux said under child safety legislation those who turned out to help their communities in a crisis would have faced a fine of 50 penalty units equalling $6600.

Across the state it would have meant the 15,000 who had held out collectively faced fines of $90 million.


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