25 August, 2020
This time last year, our horrendous bushfire season started, and it did not relent for months. The fear and shock of the unprecedented ferocity and destruction have been seared into our memories. The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, made up of 33 retired fire chiefs, with a collective experience of over 600 years of firefighting, emergency management and service to community, took the lead and held a National Bushfire and Climate Summit on what needs to be learnt. The summit concluded with the release of the Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan, which has 165 recommendations to ensure we do not leave communities unprotected again.
The recommendations include establishing a domestic aerial firefighting fleet, early detection, warning and intervention systems, and community resilience hubs. Nevertheless, speaking with former New South Wales fire commissioner Greg Mullins only last week, I know all our strategies and plans to build more resilient communities will be for nothing if we let climate change continue unchecked. Whilst we are in the grips of dealing with the current crisis, the government has a duty to prepare for the greater crisis ahead. Last year the emergency leaders' warnings to this government were not heeded. I urge the government to learn from the mistakes of the past and listen now.