Australian PM to propose royal commission into brushfire response
Australian PM to propose royal commission into brushfire response
Wildfires rage under plumes of smoke in Bairnsdale Australia. AP
13 January, 2020, 03:41
The crisis is becoming increasingly political as the country looks at the causes and the government's response.
The chief executive of Siemens said on Friday that the German engineering company will review its involvement in a coal mine in Australia after climate activists called for it to pull out of the project.
He said Morrison said the fires had made his government "think a little harder" to give comfort and consolation to the victims.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on the governments' wildfire response at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on January 5, 2020.
But it was the federal government's "uncontested" advice and position that climate change was impacting on longer, hotter, drier summer seasons.
Cooler weather conditions over the weekend have brought a temporary respite, but a firefighter died on duty in Victoria, where new flames sparked. The authorities said the risk was far from over and more hot weather is expected. According to Time magazine, about 30% of the forest in New South Wales is burnt.
"Our party room has a broad range of views", Morrison said of those within government ranks who reject mainstream climate science.
"We want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better at it", he said.
Mr Morrison has faced weeks of criticism - as the bushfires death toll rose to 28 - starting with his decision to take his family on a holiday to Hawaii and flowing through to his fire-ground visits during which he was met with anger and frustration.
Camera IconMr Morrison said the scale of the bushfires was "unprecedented" and had created a situation in which Australians were demanding a greater response from the federal government. He added that he would take the proposal through the cabinet but it must be done with consultations with states and territories.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the bushfires clearly required national leadership.
Smoke rises from burning hay bales on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, January 10, 2010.
Several firefighters received minor burns and one suffered shortness of breath, but they were not admitted to a hospital, he said. More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the state.
This comes as reports say 2 fires on the border of the states of New South Wales and Victoria merged into a single massive blaze on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Social Service welcomed the mental health spending but urged the government to boost disaster recovery payments and allowances and review the affordability of insurance.
While the fire threat is most acute in rural communities, wildfire smoke that has choked some of Australia's largest cities is a reminder to many urban Australians of the unfolding disaster. The Australian PM, who had till now been defending his government for its conservative climate policy said that his govt will work towards an improvement in curbing carbon emissions.
Westpac estimated total bushfire losses to date at about 3.4 billion US dollars higher than the 2009 bushfires in Victoria. It forecast a hit of 0.2 per cent to 0.5 per cent on gross domestic product.
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Tennis star Ashleigh Barty chose to donate her prize money from this week's Brisbane International to the Red Cross. Twenty-five people have been killed in this season's bushfires and nearly 1,900 homes have been destroyed.
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