Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Australian Bushfires

5:26 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I'll withdraw it. Today doing the rounds on social media was Senator Fierravanti-Wells with a satellite photo of the country deliberately spreading a new form of misinformation: that 70 per cent of the fires were started by ecoterrorists. I'm sure it's going to go well on social media. We've gone from greenies to arsonists to ecoterrorists. Do you see the trend? Do you see the pattern? The lowest form of politics, dishonest politics, is to use a crisis for your own political ends. That's exactly what this government and the Murdoch press have done. I wonder whether Senator Fierravanti-Wells's whacky theory is going to be on Sky TV tonight. There's probably no doubt. No doubt it's already doing the rounds there. That is the Liberal Party: spreading lies and misinformation at a time when Australians want to see their politicians acting like adults, putting their political differences aside and coming together to find solutions to act, to make sure that we don't see more catastrophic fires, more devastation, more damage to communities and more sadness around our country. But that's what the IPCC scientists tell us.

Senator Chandler, if she'd stayed in the chamber, would have heard in my contribution that the IPCC have recently said the most effective way to combat climate change, which we know is driving extreme weather events like drought and these fires, is to leave our forests alone. High-conservation forests, carbon-rich forests like the Tarkine in Tasmania, are some of the most carbon-rich forests on the planet. They are carbon rich because they are temperate rainforests. They're the ones the Tasmanian government, which she purports to represent in this place, are logging. They're the ones they're logging this week. Another four protesters were arrested today trying to defend some of the most magnificent rainforests on the planet from the greed and stupidity that has got us here in the first place.

Business as usual is no longer an option. We need a full independent inquiry into these fires that is taken out of politics and looked at with the resources and the powers that are needed to look into these fires and their causes, including forestation, deforestation, fuel reduction burns and hazard burns. The whole lot needs to be looked at properly. I am very confident that it is one of many things that need to be done in this country. It is not a silver bullet to preventing the kind of fires we have seen in Australia this summer. The most important thing we can do is act on climate change and make sure future generations don't suffer a worse fate.

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