The bushfires devastating communities across regional New South Wales and Victoria require an emergency response from the Government that not only addresses the fires currently burning but also tackles the root cause of those fires and the fires yet to come – the climate crisis, driven by the burning of fossil fuels like coal – said Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale.
“It’s tragic that on the first day of the New Year some people will be grieving the loss of loved ones, have family and friends missing or waking up homeless. Our hearts go out to those who have lost their lives and property in this latest tragedy and for the huge ecological damage and loss of native and domestic animals. There are no adequate words to describe the loss that many people in regional communities right around Australia are experiencing today,” Di Natale said.
“This is a moment of truth for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is failing in his basic duty to keep our citizens safe from harm. His totally inadequate response to these fires and his obstinate refusal to accept what we have known for decades: that burning climate changing fossil fuels would lead to more frequent and intense bushfires is putting the lives of Australians at risk.”
“What is absolutely crystal clear is that we are in an emergency and it’s time that the Prime Minister accepted that fact. He should immediately convene an emergency summit, as proposed by former-Fire Chief Mullins, to ensure that everything is being done to address the immediate crisis.”
“We must also accept that Australia’s climate has changed and we need to make sure that our land management, disaster response and climate policies are relevant to the new reality we face.
“That is why the Greens are calling on the Prime Minister to immediately declare a Royal Commission into the bushfire crisis. If he refuses to do so, we will be moving for a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry with Royal Commision-like powers as soon as Parliament returns.”
“While we need a national response to the bushfire crisis, any process that does not have at its heart a commitment to phase out fossil fuels like coal and rapidly transition to a renewable energy economy is doomed to fail from the start.”
“We need to anticipate and prepare for these emergencies, but we also need to go to the root cause which is the burning of fossil fuels that is dangerously heating our planet. The Morrison Government has their heads in the sand and Labor still won’t take a stand on the mining, burning and export of coal that is fueling these fires.”
“We are in a climate emergency and we again call on the government to act immediately by:
- Phasing out coal, oil and methane gas to ensure pollution reduction targets are consistent with science.
- Supporting the rapid transition to a renewable energy economy that will produce tens of thousands of new jobs
- Commit to convening an emergency summit and investing significantly to ensure we have all the available resources for the current emergency.
- Calling a Royal Commission to address all elements of these fires, from land management and national disaster responses to climate change and mitigation.
In the lead up to the Federal election, and in the aftermath of devastating bush fires in Tasmania and floods in Queensland, the Greens called for a major investment to create a National Disaster Response Unit with the capacity to respond to emergencies like the fires we are seeing now in NSW and Queensland. The Unit would consist of rapid response aircraft and vehicles, and up to 200 people trained in all aspects of disaster response from remote area fire-fighting to flood rescue.