James stands up for a Southern Downs resident whose property has been damaged by the State Government

Thursday, 19 September 2019

I rise to speak about a matter concerning a constituent in my electorate of Southern Downs. Mrs Lauren Goss, who lives on the slopes of Girraween National Park at Wallangarra, just south of Stanthorpe, has had a monstrous injustice perpetrated on her by the state government. The bulldozers went into her property and carved a swathe down the edge of her property, which adjoins Girraween National Park, ostensibly to create a fire trail. I have walked this myself, and it is a desolation. There are in places 100-metre-wide areas where the forest has been reduced to rocks and sandy soil. It is very steep country, so there will be extraordinary erosion at the site. Mrs Goss was also very unhappy that when the bulldozers and other vehicles came on to her property they trampled her orchard, cut water pipes and also cut through contours which had been long established to serve the two dams on her property.

Mrs Goss is an elderly lady, a widow, and she is horrified at what has happened. I want to acknowledge that the QFES has made attempts to look at what has happened and to make good the damage to Mrs Goss’s property. I want to acknowledge Acting Assistant Commissioner Tony Johnston, who toured the site with me some time back. Mrs Goss is still very concerned that the order of operations that the department is proposing in rectification is wrong. She is very concerned about the many hundreds of metres long and in some cases 100 metres wide area of erosion which is going to occur the moment it rains. Of course, we are hoping for rain on the Southern Downs. There will be substantial and irreparable erosion. I have here photographs of the damage. For the benefit of the House, I will table them.

As I say, it is an abomination. It is a desolation. It is the worst excess I have ever seen a government perpetrate on an individual citizen.

Mrs Goss has been written to by the deputy director-general of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Ben Klaassen. He said that it was done for time-critical reasons and that the construction of the fire trail was undertaken in the public interest in an endeavour to contain the fire to minimise the threat to surrounding life and property. That is all very well, but the fire was out months before the trail was constructed, so we are getting weasel words from the department. I am starting to lose patience with the efforts by various departments to rectify the damage that has been done to Mrs Goss’s property. I will be watching this very closely and taking it up further, including with the media if necessary. I ask the Minister for Fire and Emergency Services and the Minister for Environment to keep their eye on this.