Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has suggested two of the people who died in the NSW bushfires were Greens voters, in perhaps one of the most classless acts we’ve seen this bushfire season yet.

Joyce, no stranger to putting his foot firmly in his mouth, made the suggestion to Sky News this morning, in the middle of accusing the Greens of exacerbating fire risks.

“I acknowledge that the two people who died were most likely people who voted for the Green party so I am not going to start attacking them, that’s the last thing I want to do,” Joyce said.

His comments – made all the more outrageous by some defence of their civility – were quickly slammed by all sides of politics.

“How does he know who they voted for and why does it matter?” Labor’s Kristina Keneally said in response. “They’re dead, they died in a bushfire. Isn’t that enough?”

The response from Greens leader Richard Di Natale was similar.

“How low can you go, Barnaby Joyce?” he tweeted. “Why does it matter who the victims of this terrible fire voted for? Stop trying to shift blame and distract from your government’s failures to address the climate crisis, and remember: the first duty of a government is to look after its people.”

Even Finance Minister Mathias Cormann conceded Joyce’s words were “not appropriate”.

Joyce’s comments prompted swift condemnation online, with some calling for him to resign.

Hours later, Greens Senator Jordon Steele-Young issued the most savage rebuttal, claiming both Labor and the Coalition are “no better than a bunch of … borderline arsonists” for climate policy failures.

It’s the latest in what has become a war of words between the Greens and the Nationals during this bushfire.

Just yesterday, Deputy PM Michael McCormack said climate change was only the concern of “raving inner city lunatics”, a statement as disprovable as it is moronic.

Meanwhile, the Greens’ Adam Bandt – who said Joyce should “pull his head in” and apologise to the victims families – has repeatedly claimed this government’s inaction on climate change has contributed to these catastrophic, deadly bushfires. It’s hard to argue with that: leading scientists say the link between these fires and climate change is “complex but unequivocal” (to quote Curtin University associate professor Grant Wardell-Johnson), and the Coalition has been in government six years.

Right now, NSW and Queensland is bracing for the worst of the fires yet. Already more than one million hectares have been burnt, 150 homes have been lost, and firefighters are battling conditions similar to those of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires.

But more importantly, three people have already lost their lives: Julie Fletcher, 63, whose body was discovered in a burnt-out home north of Taree; George Nole, whose body was found in a car near Glen Innes; and Vivian Chaplain, 69, a Wytaliba resident who died in a Sydney hospital where she was being treated for burns, sustained while trying to defend her home.

Turning their deaths into anything other than a tragedy is nothing less than reprehensible.

Image: AAP