Thursday, November 14, 2019

Former Australian fire chiefs say Coalition ignored their advice because of climate change politics

Naaman Zhou
Thu 14 Nov 2019 04.11 GMT
First published on Thu 14 Nov 2019 03.21 GMT

A coalition of former fire chiefs have said the government “fundamentally doesn’t like talking about climate change” and that politics is the reason the government was ignoring their advice.

Former heads of the New South Wales, Queensland, Victorian and Tasmanian fire services met in Sydney on Thursday after fires that killed four people tore through the the Australian east coast this week.

They said the climate crisis was making bushfires deadlier and bushfire season longer, and the federal government needed to act immediately.

“Just a 1C temperature rise has meant the extremes are far more extreme, and it is placing lives at risk, including firefighters,” said Greg Mullins, the former chief of NSW Fire and Rescue. “Climate change has supercharged the bushfire problem.”
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“Bushfires are a symptom of climate change,” said Neil Bibby, the former chief executive of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority.


Mullins said he and 23 other fire and emergency chiefs had been trying to have a meeting with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, since April because they “knew that a bushfire crisis was coming”.

Instead, he said current fire chiefs had been locked out of discussions and were “not allowed” to mention climate change.


“None of us can understand why climate change in Australia is so political,” he said. “In the UK, the conservatives, Margaret Thatcher, said years ago this is a major problem.”

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