Any inquiry into the response and cause of the devastating bushfire crisis hitting Australia needs to investigate climate change and other factors, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
- Scott Morrison raised the issue of a national inquiry with Coalition members and senators on Thursday afternoon
- He argued any inquiry will need to be wide ranging, and include matters such as climate change
- The Prime Minister denied public comments from senior ministers showed the Government had denied the impact of climate change on bushfires
Mr Morrison has not ruled out establishing a federal royal commission into the disaster, which has so far claimed more than 20 lives and destroyed more than 2,000 homes across the country.
He mentioned the potential for such an inquiry during a phone hook-up with Coalition members and senators on Thursday afternoon, in which Mr Morrison addressed the Government’s response to the ongoing emergency.
“There’ll be a time, I think, to ensure that we work with the states and territories to get the proper inquiry in place,” the Prime Minister told the ABC’s 7.30 program.
“It needs to be comprehensive; it needs to deal with contributing factors, which is everything from hazard reduction to climate change, through to the response issues, the national coordination matters and, of course, resilience and planning for the future.
“But right now, the states and territories and ourselves are very focused on responding to these fires and the immediate recovery operations.”
Mr Morrison denied his government had been complacent about climate change and its impact on bushfires.
That was despite senior ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, labelling the debate as “the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies” in November.
“At a global level, of course, global changes in the environment and the climate have a broader impact on the world’s weather systems,” Mr Morrison said.
“It is the policy of the Government to acknowledge the link between these events.”
“What we’ve always said, though, is you cannot link any individual single emissions reduction policy of a country, whether it’s Australia or anyone else, to any specific fire event — I mean, that’s just absurd.”
By December, the Deputy Prime Minister had shifted his stance, conceding more needed to be done to combat climate change.
Despite criticism that the Coalition was undermining the Paris climate pact by using so-called ‘carry over credits’ from beating its carbon emission reduction targets under the previous Kyoto climate deal, Mr Morrison reaffirmed his stance that Australia cannot act alone when cutting emissions.
“One of the unfortunate things of the last few weeks has been, I think, the attempt to deliberately create a polarisation on this issue,” Mr Morrison said.
“There isn’t one when it comes to the actions of the Government.
“The Government accepts the need to take action on climate change, and we are.”
Last week, the Federal Government established a national bushfire recovery agency with a $2 billion budget and called out thousands of Army reservists to assist.
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