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Shelton Shows Disturbing Climate Ignorance

13 Nov 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Police, Fire and Emergency Management spokesperson

Once again, the Minister to Police, Fire and Emergency Management dodged questions about how many Tasmania Fire Service remote area firefighters are available to be mobilised if a fire breaks out.

Minister Shelton either refused to reveal the information when questioned in Parliament this morning, or was incapable of doing so.

The Minister has repeatedly hedged answering exactly how many TFS remote firefighters are grounded, and when they will be ready for remote area service.

This follows his repeated refusal to disclose what action the government has taken to implement the recommendations made in the 2016 Press and 2019 AFAC fire reviews.

Minister Shelton tried to avoid scrutiny by accusing the Greens of politicising the issue while fires are burning, but we have been asking fire resourcing questions for months.

The fact the Minister is apparently still unable to answer is an indictment on his management of this critical portfolio.

One of Minister Shelton’s most alarming statements was about resourcing being in place for the “summer fire season”. The fire season began with ferocity last month, threatening homes in Scamander, and burning at emergency levels at Lachlan and Elderslie.

His comment follows yesterday’s from the Premier who talked about preparing for the upcoming fire season, as though it hasn’t already started.

These statements show the Liberals’ failure to accept the heating climate has already substantially shifted the timing of the fire season, and the intensity and behaviour of fire events.

The Minister and his colleagues’ climate ignorance is compromising their ability to prepare us for the dangerous fire conditions we have, and will likely continue to experience.

The Liberals have stayed in reactive mode, and are not prioritising or resourcing the necessary operational changes to prepare us.

Tasmania needs a Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management who accepts the reality and extent of climate heating. 

In a time of climate emergency, leaders must acknowledge - and prepare for - the severity of the risk to communities. We must have a properly resourced fire service that can be mobilised when we are in an emergency.