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Fire Minister Refuses to Accept Climate Science

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 26 November 2020

Tags: Bushfires, Climate Change, Fire Management

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

TFS Chief Officer Chris Arnol said last year “we don't have any climate sceptics on the end of a hose line”*, but as Budget Estimates today made clear, there is one overseeing Tasmania’s fire agency.

Under questioning from the Greens, the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management Mark Shelton repeatedly refused to accept that human-induced climate change is increasing Tasmania’s bushfire risk. This is despite being read indisputable evidence from the Bureau of Meteorology about our worsening fire conditions, and the overwhelming agreement of scientists.

Instead of accepting this most basic level of climate science, the Minister said repeatedly that “seasons change every year”. The furthest the Minister would go was to say through gritted teeth that “human-induced climate change is argued to be one of the reasons seasons change.”

Asked whether he agreed with the scientific evidence that fire seasons were lengthening, Minister Shelton said he hadn’t seen the detail. This is particularly concerning given the Minister must surely play a role in deciding the level of resourcing allocated to the Tasmanian Fire Service, and to fire risk mitigation in general.

TFS Chief Officer Chris Arnol has a hard enough job on his hands without having to convince his overseeing Minister of the scientific facts – facts that are having a direct impact on the safety of Tasmanian communities.

Tasmanians have already experienced first-hand the way climate heating is making our fire seasons longer and more dangerous. They deserve so much better than a Minister who won’t acknowledge their experiences, and who stubbornly refuses to listen to the experts.