Wednesday, 13 November 2019
I, and also on behalf of Senator Waters, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) states of emergency have been declared in New South Wales and Queensland due to catastrophic bushfire risk,
(ii) lives have been lost, more than 150 homes have been destroyed, and almost 1,000,000 hectares of land in New South Wales have been razed since the start of this year's unprecedented bushfire season,
(iii) in New South Wales, the Greater Sydney and Hunter areas are set to experience catastrophic fire conditions for the first time on record,
(iv) in Queensland, a state of emergency has been declared in 42 local government areas across the south east and central Queensland, with at least 11,000 hectares and more than a dozen homes lost,
(v) the climate crisis is making bushfires like these more frequent and more intense, and making fire seasons longer and more dangerous each year, and
(vi) burning coal, oil and gas is dangerously heating our planet, and Australia is the third largest exporter of carbon pollution in the world;
(b) expresses its whole-hearted support for communities across New South Wales and Queensland devastated by these raging bushfires;
(c) thanks the courageous firefighters and emergency services for their service to communities in need; and
(d) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) act decisively to build resilience in communities, and
(ii) declare a climate emergency.
The government notes its utmost appreciation for the heroic efforts of emergency service personnel at this difficult time. The government has a targeted strategy to reduce the risk of natural disasters and build resilience in communities in the form of the Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Framework. The government is continuing to implement this framework. There are longstanding disaster recovery arrangements in place between the Commonwealth and the states to ensure an adequate response to disasters and to assist communities in recovery. The government will always stand with its communities affected by bushfires and natural disasters. It's disappointing that the Greens are using these tragic fires as an opportunity to try to score political points.
Labor will not be supporting this motion. We did approach the Greens to amend this motion into a form that we could support, but we were unable to reach agreement with them. We had been seeking to find a common ground on these devastating bushfires, because we believe that's what Australians want us to do and what they expect from their politicians. Regrettably, some have been deliberately seeking to score political points, and we won't engage in that kind of behaviour while families are grieving, communities are in danger and courageous Australians are fighting these fires. But we do believe that it is the responsible thing to do, when we are through this immediate crisis, to focus on what we have to do to keep Australians safe, with climate change making Australia's fire seasons longer and more intense.