Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Before moving this motion, I seek leave to amend the number of houses damaged from 47 to 80 in paragraph (a)(ii).
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(i) that just one week after winter, Queensland is experiencing unprecedented and devastating bushfires and facing what the fire service has described as the most catastrophic bushfire season in recorded history,
(ii) that hundreds of people have been affected by the devastating fires—to date, 80 properties have been reported as damaged or destroyed, including the heritage-listed Bina Burra resort, and prior to these bushfires, a total of 40 properties had been lost to bushfire in Queensland in the previous 130 years,
(iii) the critical role that firefighting and emergency services personnel play in the frontline response to emergencies and climate-related disasters,
(iv) that the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre's latest Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, August 2019, confirmed that Queensland fire seasons have been starting earlier and persisting longer since 1990,
(vi) that, unless urgent action is taken to reduce harmful emissions and stop further global warming, bushfires, drought, and heatwaves will become more frequent and severe, putting Australian lives and properties at risk; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) urgently take action to address climate change and manage the risk and severity of bushfires,
(ii) invest in community adaptation efforts to build resilience to climate change in moderate and high risk areas, and
(iii) commit to action to progress a rapid and just transition to clean and renewable energy sources to reduce the harmful emissions driving climate change.
Queensland authorities describe the current fires as catastrophic, with many homes destroyed. Drought has worsened and accelerated the fire season. The government is taking action on climate change, including funding climate science, emissions reduction and adaptation strategies. But, more importantly, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with Australians facing this disaster. We're providing, under our disaster recovery funding arrangements, recovery assistance to New South Wales and Queensland for those affected by the fires. The government has committed $130 million to implement the new National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework to help all sectors address disaster risks and deliver improved disaster risk information to communities and organisations.
Labor will not support this motion, which seeks to politicise the emergency in Queensland, where 72 fires are currently burning, destroying homes, belongings, pets and businesses. Brave volunteers, firefighters and emergency services workers are working 24/7 to keep communities safe by putting their lives on the line to protect others. This motion links the ongoing disaster to the broader issue of climate change. Labor have been on the record for more than 14 years arguing for effective action on climate change, and we're up for that debate anytime, but bringing forward motions like this one in the full knowledge that there will be differing views from senators in this place on parts of this motion speaks volumes about the Greens and their tactics. Today is not the day, and the Queensland fires are not the issue, on which to actively seek to divide the Senate. Today we should be standing together and speaking with one voice. To those who are fighting the fires: we thank you. We acknowledge your bravery. Stay safe. To those who are directly affected: we feel your loss and we will work with you to rebuild. (Time expired)