Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey

Community Safety Minister called incompetent on cuts

COMMUNITY Safety Minister Jack Dempsey was labelled "incompetent" minutes after he sidestepped questions on his involvement in cuts to the Rural Fire Service.

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne questioned the Bundaberg MP during an estimates hearing at Parliament House on Thursday on whether he was misleading parliament when he detailed a new structure throughout Queensland in parliament on September 12.

He suggested an alternative that Mr Dempsey was otherwise misleading the Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland, which represents the 35,000 rural fire volunteers in Queensland, and media when he denied approving the cuts days later.

"You stand by that comment that you did not look at the proposal before it was released?" he said.

"How does that reconcile with comments you made in parliament .... which happened to be strikingly similar to what the commissioner put out?"

Mr Byrne said Mr Dempsey announced in parliament that seven regions would reduce to three zones and result in 56 job losses.

But a few days later, the government backflipped on the proposal, arguing it was released before the minister had signed off on it.

A taskforce has now been appointed to investigate ways to improve efficiencies within the RFS.

Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller went a step further, asking why Mr Dempsey had trouble explaining $164,000 in cuts in the budget.

"Would you describe yourself as a totally incompetent minister?" she asked.

Mr Dempsey replied "no", to which Ms Miller snapped back "well you should".

"May I put it to you that you are incompetent and should resign."

The committee chair told her to stop abusing the minister.

"I'm not abusing the minister, I'm giving him some advice that he should resign."  

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