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 Australian east coast this week. They said the climate crisis was making bushfires deadlier and bushfire season longer. The government “fundamentally doesn’t like talking about climate change” and that politics is the reason the government was ignoring their advice.
"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.”
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”. Mullins said. “We would like the doors to be open to the current chiefs, and allow them to utter the words ‘climate change’. They are not allowed to at the moment." Mullins said the bushfire emergency was underlaid by a climate emergency. “None of us can understand why climate change in Australia is so political,” he said.
“Bushfires are a symptom of climate change,” said Neil Bibby, the former chief executive of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority. Bibby, who was in charge during Victoria’s Black Saturday, said politics was the reason the government was ignoring the former fire chiefs’ advice.
The former fire chiefs had two requests for the government: more resources for firefighters; take on “the fundamental problem” of climate change.
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