Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Australian Bushfires

4:57 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I oppose this motion of public importance. What an extraordinary motion it is. It is antihuman, as I will explain, because it relies on weather amnesia.

Has the Green movement not learned a thing from these devastating bushfires? The fuel load in devastated areas grew alarmingly over the last 20 years of political interference in forestry management by stakeholders who subscribe to green ideology just like this. Biosecurity and native vegetation legislation banned the removal of trees and branches because they are habitat for animals. How much habitat do these animals have now in the ash? Sustainable logging, specifically targeted by this motion, thins bush and maintains fire trails. Without that access, firefighters cannot get access to fires to put them out. We saw video of some of these miserable excuses for fire trails on social media, posted by frustrated firefighters—actually, by vulnerable and angry firefighters. Grazing in national parks has been banned to protect habitat, yet grazing in national parks reduces fuel loads. Residents have been banned from collecting firewood on the roadside and in national parks—activities that, again, reduce fuel loads. Residents were prevented from clearing far enough around their homes to protect their homes in a bushfire. To protect their homes! They can't do it. Their homes were lost. Lives were lost. Hazard reductions have been cut due to complaints from residents. Not in my backyard, they say. Fire brigades must now consider annoyance to residents when deciding on which days to burn. For years, local residents have been complaining about rising fuel loads and those warnings fell on deaf, green ears. Those fuel loads are the point of green forestry management. Greenies call it 'habitat'. Everyday Australians call it 'a disaster waiting to happen'.

It is a disaster that many, including One Nation, saw coming. Anyone with a history book should have seen these fires coming. Climate is cyclical, globally and in this country. The temperatures experienced this summer were not higher than previous cyclical highs in the 1880s and 1890s, nor the 1930s. In fact, in 1939 Australia experienced the Black Friday fires that took 71 lives. The ice dome core sample temperature reconstruction shows that in the last 1,000 years Australia has had 10 droughts that were worse than the drought we're currently experiencing—far worse. According to Paul Reid, an ecological criminologist and sustainability scientist at Monash University, 87 per cent of fires in Australia are caused by humans. This is about equal parts arson and neglect. Police reports confirm this. The difference this time was fuel loads.

To be clear, I'm not blaming the green movement for the number of fires that we had this summer; control of fuel loads does not reduce the number of bushfires. Proper forest management reduces the severity of bushfires. In demanding that the government put the bush back to the way it was before the fires, the Greens are creating the very conditions that caused these fires to burn hotter and longer than we have ever seen. Why? Why would we see these fires raging through hell, through fuel-laden forests, taking lives and taking homes, and then decide: 'Hey! Let's do that all over again!' The Greens have weather amnesia and fire amnesia, combined with fundamental ignorance or dishonesty in spreading weather amnesia among the community. This motion should not succeed. Greens' policies and behaviours are anti-environment and antihuman.

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