FIRE-PROOF FAIL: Arsonists aren't the only problem
OPINION: 'WE DON'T get those kinds of fires in Queensland.'
For nearly two decades that's been the kind of standard response whenever this paper has asked a politician or green-leaning academic about restricted vegetation management and lack of burning off on the Fraser Coast.
Now, as 80 fires continue to rage around our state, these same people are blaming climate change for the catastrophe.
There is no doubt Mother Nature is angry.
There also seems to be no room for the concession that maybe, worshipping every blade of grass, tree branch and the wildlife that lives among it isn't actually the best thing for our environment or the people of this state.
That small sacrifices throughout the year can stop the staggering suffering we are seeing this week.
Politicians can't make it rain.
They can't be blamed when someone who hasn't understood the definition of fire bans makes a foolish mistake, or malicious minds see an opportunity to cause chaos.
But what happens next - how fast that fire can travel and the damage it causes can be mitigated with hazard reduction burning.
While many are rightly demanding tough penalties for those who start fires, some of the anger in our communities should also be funnelled into the way public and private land in Queensland is managed.
It should come as no surprise that in a state where graziers cop tougher penalties than drug dealers, there's a bit of confusion about how to best manage the bush.
This has led to minimal controlled burns during the year and bizarre big brother management of private land.
It has also helped to foster a false sense of security in regions like the Fraser Coast where countless properties remain overgrown.
No matter where one sits on the climate change argument, everyone can now see that we do actually get these kinds of fires in Queensland.
On the Gold Coast, on the Sunshine Coast, on the Central Coast and yes, the Fraser Coast.
Any person in power who witnesses the kind of disaster engulfing our state this week and fails to call for a new approach is as culpable as an arsonist striking a match.