System supported by the farmers who use it

There has been plenty of discussion about what the proposed Fire and Emergency Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill will mean for farming on the Eyre Peninsula.

Common themes that surfaced out of the concerns raised at the Port Lincoln consultation meeting was that the power to stop farmers from reaping should not fall into the hands of CFS volunteers.

As mentioned in the front page story the first public hearing of the Select Committee on the Fire and Emergency Service Bill was held in Port Lincoln on Thursday.

There was plenty of discussion on the amendment for section 82 of the bill which includes power for a CFS officer to direct a person to refrain from carrying out an activity that may cause a fire if weather conditions could cause it to get out of control.

As was highlighted by many who spoke at the hearing, many volunteers are farmers themselves and giving them the responsibility of directing farmers not to reap would lead to ill feelings among people who normally are neighbours, teammates and friends.

A suggestion by Port Lincoln mayor Brad Flaherty, who has also worked for South Australian Police, was that a CFS officer could refer the situation to a regional officer who could then givs the directive for the activity to cease.

But this also raised concerns.

Most people on the Eyre Peninsula know farming communities are close knit ones, during times of hardship including drought, personal tragedies or even a bushfire, they band together to help each other out.

This is evidenced in the use of farm fire units which can be on the scene during a significant fire on a property.

The relationship between CFS and farmers is a good one as it stands so there needs to be careful thought before anything is established that could damage it.

Speaking of things that work as they are now, there was plenty of support given for the Voluntary Grain Harvesting Code of Practice which details the conditions under which harvesting should occur.

The farmers have confidence in the system that determines when it is safe for reaping and most of them do the right thing.

There is always a need to look at how we can make the fire danger season safer for all who live in our regional areas but those in power should heed the message of those who know how things work on the ground.