The opposition has criticised Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (right) and Minister Mark Furner for reducing DAF office hours in regional Queensland. Photo: Jono Searle.
The opposition has criticised Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (right) and Minister Mark Furner for reducing DAF office hours in regional Queensland. Photo: Jono Searle.

Farmers to lose out as DAF cuts hours in Burnett region

THE opening hours of 18 regional Department of Agriculture and Fisheries offices will be cut, as face-to-face service returns.

The cuts will hit offices in Kingaroy and Gayndah, as well as Bundaberg, Mackay, Boonah, Charleville, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Dalby, Emerald, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Longreach, Maryborough, Roma, Hermitage, Mareeba and Maroochy.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington has criticised the Palaszczuk government, saying the DAF offices provide farmers with vital face-to-face help when applying for drought assistance or seeking advice on complex biosecurity issues.

“At a time when drought-stricken farmers are looking for more assistance from the government, Labor is slashing their services after a secret review,” Ms Frecklington said.

“With two-thirds of Queensland in drought it is disgraceful that Labor is using covid as an excuse to slash services to the bush.”

According to Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner, the changes are simply in response to a shortage of foot traffic in and out of the regional DAF offices.

“No DAF office is closing its doors and no Queensland public servants are losing their jobs,” Mr Furner said.

“All of these DAF offices will continue to provide critical support for our essential agricultural industries.”

The DAF front counter services were suspended across Queensland due to COVID-19 earlier this year, only returning in recent weeks.

“Over that period we responded to more than 18,000 calls and 2200 emails, supporting the agricultural industry through new COVID-19 safety requirements and contributing to Queensland’s overall COVID-19 effort,” Mr Furner said.

“This process helped identify that some customer interactions could be more easily, efficiently and safely dealt with online or over the phone.”

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