Let’s Go Through Exactly How Morrison Is Helping Make Our Bushfire Crisis That Much Worse

Contributor: Kara Schlegl

Fire starter Pokémon Scott Morrison evolved yesterday into a Mega Scorchmo, telling Australia he wants to introduce new laws that will force states to meet a certain hazard reduction quota during the bushfire off-season.

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Hazard reduction is the controlled burning of bushfire fuel – the sticks and leaves that fall to the forest floor. It can only be done when the local area isn’t too dry, or too wet, or too hot, or too cold. It’s kind of like Goldilocks, in that it’s a picky bitch.

The introduction of these laws could be catastrophic. RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has repeatedly said that parts of Australia likely won’t see a bushfire off-season this year, and that the extreme weather we are facing makes hazard reduction almost impossible to do for most of the year, anyway.

In other words, the window for doing hazard reduction is shrinking. Forcing a commitment to a number of hazard reduction burns during increasingly dangerous conditions could do more harm than good.

It’s all part of a pattern for the Morrison government to be super fucking unhelpful when it comes to bushfires.

Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives for the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu, Wednesday, August 14, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

After the devastating Queensland fires in late 2018, Morrison announced an inquiry into the state government’s land-clearing laws, claiming the restrictions on land-clearing led to more bushfires – essentially arguing that the more trees we have, the more bushfires we’ll have.

This is wild considering that we’ve known for over a decade that more trees equals more rain, and that land-clearing has a direct correlation with more severe droughts.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was having none of it, saying, “If you want to know what caused those conditions, I’ll give you an answer – it’s called climate change.”

But, don’t worry, this isn’t even worst of it.

The Batemans Bay bushfire. Photo: AAP.

Scorchmo promised bushfire relief funding to Tasmania’s state government in January 2019, but by April, the money still hadn’t come.

As Treasurer, and then later as Prime Minister, Scorchmo went out of his way to cut funding from Natural Disaster Relief, and every single public service that helps us when disaster strikes.

If you’re wondering why Centrelink and the Red Cross are screwing up so royally in this crisis, it might have something to do with the millions of dollars that has been ripped from these services over the past seven years.

Add to this the rampant climate change denial in the Coalition, and the general incompetence of Scorchmo’s cabinet – including Environment Minister Sussan Ley, who couldn’t even get her shit together enough to help save the bloody koalas – and this whole sitch has me despairing for our future.

Firefighters around Australia are preparing for another onslaught of extreme fire danger weather, and I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth repacking my go bag, or if I should just leave my acne cracked high school photos to the fires and take up a new nomadic lifestyle, eating berries off bushes and shitting into a hole.

Make like Reese Witherspoon a.k.a. Cheryl Strayed and go bush.

At least then my carbon footprint would be almost non-existent, and I’d be doing more to help reduce emissions than this government probably ever will.

Our country is on fire, and our government is a fucking mess. That’s the reality of living in Australia in 2020, and with a survey revealing this week that 57% of Australians have been directly affected by these fires already, the outlook for all of us is grim.

My greatest fear is that by winter, people will forget about this. People who haven’t lost loved ones or homes or livelihoods will get back to the bullshit of living, and the government will continue down this treacherous path of wilful ignorance, and criminal negligence.

This isn’t going to get better, unless we do something about it. Lucky for us, there are people outside the government pushing for change. Hopefully, you’re one of them.

Kara Schlegl is a writer & producer based in Sydney, Australia. She works in TV, podcasting, and the thriving print media industry. She tweets wholesome content @karaschlegl.