August 11, 2020
Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has warned the State Government could be planning to either shut down counter services – or cut the opening hours – at the Kingaroy Department of Agriculture and Fisheries office.
She said a leaked State Government document stated the COVID-19 crisis had given DAF an “unique opportunity” to review its “service delivery model”.
Mrs Frecklington said this meant slashing support for farmers at 18 DAF offices across Queensland, including Kingaroy.
However, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner has denied that services are going to be cut.
He said no DAF offices would be closing and no staff would be sacked.
However, he admitted some customer transactions could be better handled via the phone or internet – a scenario which had been identified during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“All DAF front counter services were suspended due to COVID-19 earlier this year, with counter service resuming in recent weeks,” Mr Furner said.
During this time it had been identified that some customer transactions could be dealt with more efficiently.
Mrs Frecklington said DAF staff had been instructed to tell angry farmers their services would be replicated through a help hotline and “digital service delivery”.
She said the cuts would hit offices in Boonah, Bundaberg, Charleville, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Dalby, Emerald, Gayndah, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Kingaroy, Longreach, Mackay, Mareeba, Maryborough, Nambour, Roma and Warwick.
“At a time when drought-stricken farmers are looking for more assistance from the government, Labor is slashing their services after a secret review,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“This is clearly a cost-cutting exercise because Annastacia Palaszczuk has lost control of the State’s finances and our debt is surging towards $100 billion.
“Everyone in regional areas who has experienced the loss of banking and postal services through a ‘digital transition’ knows this means less services.
“I’m calling on Annastacia Palaszczuk to stop these cruel regional service cuts.”