Prime Minister Scott Morrison has argued hazard reduction burning is action “to take account of the climate we’re living in,” and said any royal commission into Australia’s bushfire crisis should take no more than six months.
Amid intense criticism from Labor on the level of the government’s emissions reduction target and its use of carryover credits to meet it, Mr Morrison said hazard reduction burning would have a more concrete impact on fire risk.
“You talk about action on climate change, that’s what that is. Hazard reduction is action to take account of the climate we’re living in, which is a more challenging environment over the next decade and beyond,” Mr Morrison said.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Morrison said hazard reduction was as “important as emissions reduction and I think many would argue even more so because it has an even more direct, practical impact on the safety of a person going into a bushfire season”.
He said a royal commission into the fires should take no more than six months and begin with a speedy audit of measures recommended by the dozens of previous inquiries into Australian bushfires.
But any new inquiry should look into Australia’s performance at adapting to hotter summers, including whether the country should adopt national targets for hazard reduction burning, he said.
“There are clear rules and transparency arrangements, we report all the time of what our emissions reductions are,” Mr Morrison said. “But across the country there is not a national system of reporting to track how hazard reduction is progressing.”
In relation to hazard reduction measures, Mr Morrison mentioned native vegetation laws – though he did not suggest changes to those laws – and grazing in national parks.
Experts have warned that more hazard reduction burning is likely to be ineffective against many of the fires seen this summer while other experts have argued more funding is needed to retain burns at the current level.
Mr Morrison dismissed critiques of his government’s 2030 target as “misinformation”, saying that other comparable countries had less ambitious goals and Australia was meeting and beating its targets.
Story Credit: smh.com.au