Morrison is again asked about the government’s position on climate change, questioned on whether he needs to do more, and whether he might revisit the national energy guarantee – a policy that Morrison previously supported before a conservative uprising within government ranks caused it to be dumped by former PM Malcolm Turnbull.
When asked if he accepted that these type of bushfire events would become more common, Morrison said the government had “covered that a number of times now.”
“There’ll be the reviews that take place as you would expect and I’ve already indicated in response to questions that we’ll be working closely with state and territory authorities on how they are undertaken,” Morrison said.
“But the links and implications here have been acknowledged.”
When asked if he accepted that community sentiment had shifted on climate change as a result of the bushfire season, and this might warrant a review of policy, including the national energy guarantee, Morrison does not bite.
“I accept community sentiment today when we have got extreme fire conditions in New South Wales and Victoria, would have me absolutely 100% focused on ensuring the response effort that may have to roll in the next 24 hours is ready to go, and that I’ve given the order of the Defence Forces to be ready to go and get in there.”
“That’s what I believe the community wants me focused on right now.”
It’s worth mentioning that this press conference was not 100% focused on the response effort. It began with obviously important briefings on the Iran situation. So he should have been able to answer questions on this.
The Eyre Highway has reopened after being closed for 12 days due to a bushfire, allowing travellers and road freight to get through to Perth.
The WA department of fire and emergency services opened the road at 7am local time in response to a calming of fire activity in the Dundas fire, which has been “moderated due to cooler temperatures, reduced wind speeds and higher relative humidity.”
The alert read: “the Eyre Highway and the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway have now reopened. Some speed restrictions are in place and it is anticipated a large number of vehicles could be on the roads, so motorists are urged to drive with care and ensure they have adequate fuel, food and water.
The highway has been closed since 30 December. It is the main road into WA from the Eastern States — the only other sealed road is the Victoria Highway, which goes from Darwin to Kununurra at the northern end of the continent — and it’s also the main freight route.
Supermarkets Coles and Woolworths both said in statements yesterday that they were experiencing some stock shortages due to the road closure. Dozens of truck drivers and tourists have been stuck at the Caiguna roadhouse, on the eastern edge of the road closure, for a fortnight.
Toilet paper had to be helicoptered in, and the roadhouse was running low on water, which it generates through desalination.
The Eyre Highway runs from Norseman to Port Augusta. The Coolgardie-Esperance Highway also runs through Norseman, and forms part of the route from Perth to Adelaide.
Morrison is speaking in Canberra on the bushfires, after addressing what he says was a “terrible accident”, that saw a Ukrainian aircraft shot down in Iran.
On the fires, Morrison says conditions remain “severe and extreme”, and he has advised the Australian Defence Force to stand ready to assist.
“What I’ve said in my briefings this morning with the ADF is I’ve given them very clear instructions that they are to stand ready to move and support immediately,” Morrison said.
He reports on the work the ADF has been undertaking, including help with the burying of dead livestock.
“That will be of great relief I think to those farmers and graziers for whom the disposal of their stock and the stock losses is a very difficult issue for them,” Morrison said.
“The other part of the work and effort that is being undertaken by the ADF is in the engineering side of works, clearing roads, working with local authorities to establish contact with isolated communities but that will come under threat again today.
“So, having put the Defence Forces in a position to move quickly in the event of a fire activity today, they will move and ensure that they can provide that support as swiftly as they can, but again working in concert with local state and territory authorities.”
at 6.49pm EST
at 6.15pm EST