Australia 'Disappointing': Lord mayor counters Brisbane bushfire parade criticism

13:25  15 february  2020
13:25  15 february  2020 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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The Lord Mayor of Brisbane is the chief executive of the City of Brisbane , the capital of the Australian state of Queensland, and the head of the Brisbane City Council. The current Lord Mayor is Adrian Schrinner of the Liberal National Party, who was sworn in on 8 April 2019

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Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner says it is not "productive" to talk about the cost of hosting a ticker tape parade to acknowledge the efforts of volunteers across the state and beyond over the summer bushfire season.

Addressing media on Saturday to release details of the event, Cr Schrinner described criticisms of the city's decision to hold the parade three weeks before residents vote in local government elections as "disappointing" and politically motivated.

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The march will leave from Reddacliff Place at 10am on Saturday, March 7, before proceeding down George and Adelaide streets and into King George Square,where the keys to the city will be handed to one volunteer couple in a public presentation.

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Cr Schrinner said the event would "celebrate the volunteering work ... of so many people" who fought fires across Australia's east coast in recent months, while also raising funds for recovery efforts.

a boy wearing a helmet: Lisa Camus and Paul Cantarella will receive the keys to the city on March 7. © Lisa Camus Lisa Camus and Paul Cantarella will receive the keys to the city on March 7. a tree with a sunset in the background: A fire on Moreton Island over the 2019-20 bushfire season. © Lisa Camus A fire on Moreton Island over the 2019-20 bushfire season.

"It has always been acknowledged as an important thing for the city to do to recognise people that deserve recognition and I don't think it is productive to talk about the costs in that way," he said.

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When the parade was first flagged last month, the United Firefighters Union and Rural Fire Brigades Association both suggested the money spent on the event could be better directed to resourcing.

"We know the people of Queensland appreciate our efforts and that is reward enough for us," union general secretary John Oliver said Saturday.

He added professional firefighters thanked the council for its appreciation and efforts but had now "moved on" to floods and water rescues.

"If the parade goes ahead we will put in a few fire trucks, but our priority right now is protecting Queenslanders from these significant events," Mr Oliver said.

Money will be collected on the day to be "distributed for bushfire relief" via the Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust. Owner-occupiers will also be given the option to donate their next early rate payment discount to the trust.

"We expect to be able to raise a lot of money through this parade for the bushfire appeal," Cr Schrinner said.

Asked about the likely cost of the event, he said it was "yet to be determined".

"There has never been another ticker-tape parade or keys to the city presentation that I am aware of where people have complained about the cost of it.

"This is not about politics, this is about saying thank you."

Representatives from 25 organisations including firefighters, the State Emergency Service and wildlife carers are expected to take part in the event, with up to 1000 parading through the city streets.

Lisa Camus and Paul Cantarella, both long-time SES and RFS members who fought 15 fires from Moreton Island to the NSW South Coast during the summer's unprecedented bushfire event, will receive the keys to the city on their behalf.

Mr Cantarella said the recognition left him feeling "proud, overwhelmed, a little bit awkward [and] surprised".

"But honestly I think it's really important to acknowledge that there are many, many thousands of people out there from all the services that do great work day-in, day-out," he said.

"We've just over the past week a couple of crews that have been going out for the storm event. We're up here, but we are really receiving it for all of those people."

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