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Estimates: Questions about funding allocation for Rural Fire Service facilities

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Wednesday 3 August 2022, I asked about how funding for new Rural Fire Brigade facilities will be allocated and whether the decisionmaking will be transparent to avoid pork barrelling. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: My question is about the $10 million to which the minister referred for new RFS facilities which are obviously much needed and very welcome to deal with the growing impacts of climate change. Commissioner, I am interested in what research, consultation or other analysis has been done or will be conducted to ensure these facilities are located at the most at-risk communities? Will that analysis be made publicly available?

Commissioner Leach: Thank you for the question. There are a couple of considerations when we look at replacing a facility for a rural fire brigade. One is the risk environment that the brigade operates in, but it is also about where the volunteers are based in those locations. The location of any rural fire station is a combination of those things: its proximity to our volunteer base; where we can get available land; and taking into account the risk environment that we have. All those things are factored in. Largely, they are driven by the local decision-making of the local rural fire brigade.

Mr BERKMAN: Is that sort of analysis made available when those funding decisions are made? I say this without intending to cast any aspersions but, with the use of spreadsheets with coloured boxes that we have seen in recent years, transparency around these funding allocations is a very important concern.

Commissioner Leach: The RFS and the Fire and Rescue Service are quite different, because RFS involve community-led initiatives a lot of the time. The local rural fire brigade will apply for grant funding or raise money through various ways and will decide to build a facility. As we move more into that space—and we talked earlier about some of the funding announcements for us to lift the standard of some of our existing stations and to look at starting to provide some rural fire stations—we will use our service delivery planning tools which we have that are quite advanced—and we use them for a lot of our fire rescue and other planning purposes—to do that sort of analysis, because we want to get good value for what we do. We want the resources to be in a good location strategically for our brigades to be able to respond to the risk. We want them to be able to service the communities for the next 20 or 30 years.

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