CFS Powers (Fire and Emergency Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill)

Grain Producers SA responded to the South Australian Parliament's Select Committee on the Fire and Emergency Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill.

GPSA was represented at a hearing of the committee on Febuary 4, 2019 by Vice-Chairman Adrian McCabe, CEO Caroline Rhodes, board director Peter Cousins, and GPSA staff member Leighton McDonald-Stuart.

The Committee's hearings are ongoing.

Learn more about the Grain Harvesting Code of Practice

Download the GPSA Submission

Download the Bill

What were the main points GPSA presented to the select committee?

In its submission to the Select Committee on the Fire and Emergency Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill, GPSA put forward a number of practical recommendations which would help the grain industry to further reduce the risk of fire during high-risk activities such as harvesting and burning.

These included advertising and marketing campaigns from Government and CFS similar to GPSA’s Know Your Code campaign to build community awareness of fire risk and for Government and CFS to provide funding to support fire prevention initiatives led by farm groups.

GPSA would also like to see appropriate protocols and operating procedures developed which require SAPOL to communicate any direction in relation to the cessation of harvest activities, on the advice of appropriate CFS personnel.

GPSA strongly advocated for additional safeguards for growers who do the right thing. Growers who abide by the various codes of practice should not be caught up in these new powers. This allows responsible operators to harvest when appropriate, while directing CFS resources towards recalcitrants who do not operate in safe conditions.

GPSA also recommend CFS personnel who are empowered to direct should contact and interact with farm groups to encourage weather monitoring and self-imposed bans, and engage with those groups when deciding to direct that a primary production activity be stopped.

Why was it important for GPSA to present its stance on the changes to the bill? 

GPSA was not consulted prior to the Bill being introduced to Parliament. When this Bill was tabled, GPSA was quick to reinforce its commitment to the South Australian Grain Harvesting Code of Practice. Members were concerned proposed legislative changes to regulate harvest activities would penalise them for a decade of good harvesting practice and prudent risk management.

Prior to GPSA’s establishment, the South Australian Farmers’ Federation worked with the CFS to develop the GHCP, which outlines the conditions under which grain harvesting should occur in the paddock, including operating grain harvesters, vehicles involved in grain transport, and grain dryers and augers.

In recent years, GPSA and CFS have worked together on the Know Your Code campaign, which encourages growers to abide by the GHCP. 

The campaign provides a simple checklist for growers to ensure they are adhering to the on-farm actions of the code. An easy to read poster sets out five simple steps producers can take to help reduce the risk of harvester fires.

What is GPSA's position on the bill to allow CFS personnel the power to direct farmers to cease harvest operations?

The grain growing community in South Australia has an extremely high awareness of the risks of fire and dangerous conditions for fire, as well as experience and capacity to extinguish them.

Grain growers take their responsibility to harvest in safe conditions very seriously. No grain grower would want to be the source of a fire which causes loss of life and property in their own district.

What is GPSA hoping the final outcome to the bill changes will be? 

GPSA is hopeful Government and CFS consider and implement the recommendations put forward as part of its submission.

Grain growers should be rewarded for the past decade of good behaviour, rather than penalised through further regulation.

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