Climate change means our fire services need more support: Bandt

Acting Greens leader, Adam Bandt, called today for a greater national focus on the growing fire risk that will come with accelerating climate change.

"The Greens are very concerned that unless we get climate change under control, Australia may not have enough resources to deal with the growing number and severity of fires," said Mr Bandt.

"Our emergency services, especially our firefighters, were stretched to breaking point on Black Saturday in Victoria. Unfortunately, climate change means Black Saturdays will be more likely and happen more often right around the country.

"Fire services operate within State boundaries, but we need to get a handle at a national level on what we are going to do if the devastation of Black Saturday starts happening in more places more often."

"In the past, we've relied on firefighters and fire fighting equipment from one state moving across borders to help out another state. It's not clear that we have the resources to keep doing that if blazes are burning in several states at once, for example."

"The national body looking at some of these questions, the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, runs out of federal funding in the middle of 2013. The Government should establish a National Fire Institute to take its place, so that agencies, firefighters and researchers have a permanent body planning to deal with increased fires arising from climate change."

"I am worried that the lessons of Black Saturday haven't been heeded by our federal and state governments. This is despite the Royal Commission and the findings of the Climate Commission."

"This season in Victoria may not be as bad in the bush, but grassfires are still a big threat and weather is unpredictable."

"Fires will get more frequent because of climate change and Melbourne is growing so we need to grow our emergency services too."

"A Greens' initiated Senate inquiry, which will examine what is needed to prepare for extreme weather events across the country, will be crucial in determining our national fire readiness."

Submissions to the inquiry are due in January and the inquiry will report in March.

Conditions for large and intense bushfires are likely to become more common in the future. The number of ‘very high' and ‘extreme' fire danger days could increase significantly over the next few decades.

28 December 2012