Miranda Devine

March 5, 2019

Melissa Price, the new federal Environment Minister, has done untold political damage to a government already divided over climate action by spouting idiotic green propaganda about Victoria’s bushfires.

On Tuesday, she linked the fires to climate change, claiming there is “no doubt” of its impact on Australia.

“There’s no doubt that there’s many people who have suffered over this summer. We talk about the Victorian bushfires … There’s no doubt that climate change is having an impact on us. There’s no denying that.”

Sorry, minister, it wasn’t climate change that caused the latest bushfires which have so far destroyed nine homes in Victoria, and it wasn’t climate change that killed almost 200 people in the Black Saturday fires ten years ago.

The real culprit is green ideology which opposes the necessary hazard reduction of fuel loads in national parks and which prevents landholders from clearing vegetation around their homes.

Jinks Creek Winery was destroyed after a bushfire engulfed the Bunyip state forest. Picture: Stuart McEvoy / The Australian

The ongoing poor management of national parks and state forests in Victoria and green obstruction of fire mitigation strategies has led to dangerously high fuel loads over the past decade.

That means that when fires do inevitably break out they are so intense that they are devilishly difficult for firefighters to contain. As a federal parliamentary inquiry heard in 2003, if you quadruple the ground fuel, you get a 13-fold increase in the heat generated by a fire.

Locals know the truth. Andrew Clarke, owner of Jinks Creek Winery, which has been destroyed by a fire which raged out of the Bunyip State Forest, “begged” for fuel reduction burns to protect his property.

“I’ve been begging them [Forest Fire Management Victoria] for 20 years to burn off the state forest at the back of our place and still to this day it hasn’t happened,” he told the ABC’s Country Hour.

Clarke said a planned burn-off was called off because of concerns about nesting birds.

So how did that work out for the birds?

Hundreds of emergency workers have worked across Victoria throughout the week to bring fires under control. Picture: AAP / David Crosling

Just three weeks ago, Victoria’s former chief fire officer Ewan Waller warned that state forest fuel loads were reaching deadly, Black Saturday levels. No one paid any attention.

But you can bet Premier Daniel Andrews will hide behind the climate change furphy.

Parroting green lies suits politicians because then they can avoid blame for their own culpability.

The Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission criticised the Victorian government for its failure to reduce fuel loads in state forests. It recommended more than doubling the amount of hazard reduction burns.

Instead, in the last three years, alone, the Andrews government has slashed the amount of public land being hazard reduced by almost two thirds.

It’s a crime.

The wonder is that the Morrison government is helping him with his alibi.

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One thought on “Green ideology, not climate change, makes bushfires worse

  • March 10, 2019 at 9:26 am

    The Hon Melissa Price
    Federal Minister for the Environment
    Canberra, ACT

    Dear Minister

    I noted your comment in the media that the recent Victorian bushfires are the “result of climate change”.

    It is regrettable that you should make this statement, because not only is it incorrect, it excuses the Victorian government and parks bureaucracy for serious mismanagement. People who know about bushfires have been saying for the last 5 years that Victoria is headed for another Black Saturday, and not because the world’s mean annual temperature has gone up a degree or two. It is, above all, due to inattention to escalating fuel levels in the bush.

    A further problem in blaming climate change is that this does not provide a short-term answer for an existing threat.

    I draw your attention to the attached article, published recently at Quadrant On Line. This dismisses the claim that current bushfires are the result of climate change and points out the futility of trying to fix the bushfire problem by fixing the climate.

    Coming from Western Australia you are in a perfect position to provide leadership in the matter of bushfire management. We are the leading jurisdiction in Australia, and are the envy of bushfire experts around the country. The least helpful thing you can do is to adopt the “greenie” line on bushfires. This has never worked and can never work. On the contrary, as Environment Minister you should be promoting:

    1. The key importance of effective bushfire management in combatting environmental damage such as incineration of wildlife, soil erosion, loss of landscape beauty, destruction of heritage and recreation facilities;

    2. The need to address the bushfire threat now, not wait 30 years for the climate to be fixed.

    3. The cost/benefit of fuel reduction burning as a means of minimising bushfire damage at optimum cost to the community;

    4. The critical need to reduce the risk of death and injury from fires, especially to firefighters; and

    5. The need to implement the findings of bushfire inquiries, including the Black Saturday Royal Commission, and the House of Representatives and the Senate Inquiries into bushfires, all of which put the case for more pre-emptive management (including fuels management) rather than relying on suppression. If you have not studied the report of the Senate Inquiry you need urgently to do so, as it was a comprehensive and intelligent work.

    I would welcome an invitation to discuss these issues with you. I am prepared to travel to Merredin to meet you in your electoral office. If this is not suitable, perhaps you would like to talk to Chris Back, a former Senator with a profound understanding of bushfire issues.

    In the meantime, I implore you to withdraw your comments blaming the recent bushfires on climate change. They are unhelpful to Australian firefighters and disrespectful to Australian bushfire scientists and managers … the very people who are putting their lives on the line to protect the Australian environment and communities.

    Yours sincerely

    Roger Underwood AM
    Chairman, The Bushfire Front of WA Inc

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