It's somewhat ironical that tonight’s episode of Australian Story was about the way people pitched in to help others during the Tasmanian bush fires. It was a great show featuring the effort by a woman who created a Face Book page that put people in need of help in touch with those willing to give assistance and help coordinate the whole show.
In times of trouble, the best seems to come out in people. It was not that long ago that we saw victims of a North Queensland cyclone donating their emergency assistance checks to the Victorian bushfire appeal, and before that, Southern farmers donating semi loads of hay to droughted farmers in Queensland.
On the other hand, it is a bad idea to be a Good Samaritan if it is likely to incur the wrath of the Greens or attract the baleful gaze of their captive envirofascists in the Queensland Department of the Environment. A retired businessman in Harvey Bay has just been fined $7,500 for towing bogged motorists in a national park and could be hit for $15,000 more:
A GOOD Samaritan who says he has towed more than 200 bogged cars from roads in the Burrum Coast National Park in the past 20 years has been fined $7500 for damaging the park during the rescues.
Douglas George Waters, 71, appeared in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Monday charged with six counts of breaching a restriction on cultural and natural resources protected areas and one count of driving an unregistered tractor.
Magistrate Graeme Tatnell convicted Mr Waters on two counts of damaging the national park but dropped the five other charges. He was fined $7500 - and he may be up for a further $15,000 payment because of a hole he dug while fixing a road.
Mr Waters has lived on a property in the heart of the Burrum Coast National Park for 25 years and, under the Queensland National Government in 1988, was given permission to maintain the isolated roads leading to his home. The previous state Labor government cancelled that permission.
Mr Waters said outside court that the roads had since deteriorated and people could easily become stuck. He told the Chronicle outside court he was dumbfounded by the lack of common sense. "At the moment I can't tow anyone out," he said.
"If you are unlucky enough to be bogged and it's a Friday afternoon or out of normal hours DERM (now Environment and Heritage Protection) has no after-hours number to help which could result in your situation becoming life-threatening."
It is a bit surprising that Mr Waters is “dumbfounded by the lack of common sense” given that he has been dealing with bureaucracy for some time now and should be getting used to it.
It appears that the department was really going after him given the charge of driving an unregistered tractor. Given that most farm tractors are unregistered unless the farmer has reason to take it on public roads often, and that the road was unmaintained, it has to be assumed that the enviros were trying to get him for everything they could pin on him. The withdrawal of permission to maintain the road leading to his home may be taken as an attempt to make his continued occupation of his property untenable.
About the only decent thing coming out of this other than the actions of Mr Waters is that the Member for Hinkler, Paul Neville is taking his case up with the Qld government.