Former PM Malcolm Turnbull has called on his successor Scott Morrison and his government to “provide leadership” in the face of devastating bushfires, saying current responses to disastrous fires may be overpowered by the impacts of climate change.
Speaking on Q&A last night, Turnbull was asked why Australia, a nation particularly prone to horrific bushfires, lacks a national crisis management plan and relies on separate volunteer firefighting services spread across the country.
“Our firefighters, who we must honour and thank here, and support, are taking on unimaginable challenges, getting worse all the time,” Turnbull said.
“And so we do have to come together and recognise that the situation with fires is going to become worse. That is the inevitable consequence of a hotter and drier climate. That means we need stronger and more coordinated responses.”
Turnbull said it’s “not rocket science” that climate change is exacerbating Australia’s bushfire season, saying “We can’t keep on responding in the same way you have in the past.”
While he said he would leave the harshest critiques of Morrison to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese – who has faced his own recent criticism over climate change – Turnbull said the fires were a “national security issue” which requires the same kind of federal response provided to the threat of terrorism.
“If it isn’t a national security issue, what is? The national government has to provide leadership… Obviously the Federal Government can’t do everything but the Federal Government’s job is to lead and this is an issue that needs leadership,” he said.
— QandA (@QandA) December 9, 2019
Morrison has faced criticism for his response to the fires, which have taken six lives, destroyed hundreds of properties, and periodically reduced Sydney’s air quality to hazardous levels.
In short: as more and more people recognise we are not experiencing business as usual, Morrison’s government has been targeted for downplaying the issue and focusing on different matters altogether.
While Morrison says the government acknowledges the impact of climate change on Australia’s bushfire conditions, he rejected the notion that significant cuts to Australia’s carbon emissions would alleviate the problem last month.
“To suggest that at just 1.3% of emissions, that Australia doing something more or less would change the fire outcome this season – I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all,” Morrison said.
That is despite a number of former emergency chiefs from across the country asking to meet with Morrison, in order to express their concerns over Australia’s carbon emissions and the nation’s capacity to fight worsening blazes.
Then there was the whole cricket thing.
Turnbull’s comments show the criticism is hardly from the left, either.
“We can’t kid ourselves that we’re not going to face more and hotter fires,” he said last night.
“That’s the consequence of global warming.”
Was Turnbull exactly a saviour for the climate? Well, no, but you can compare and contrast the last two Liberal Party leaders here.