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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Emergency chiefs announce bushfire emergency summit after ‘leadership vacuum’

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A group of 29 former emergency chiefs say the federal government’s leadership vaccum on Australia’s bushfire and climate crisis has prompted them to announce a national bushfire emergency summit after the current bushfire season.

The group, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA), has recently expanded with six new members joining calls for the Federal Government to better prepare Australia for worsening extreme weather events. The new members include former Deputy Fire Commissioners, former Directors General of Emergency Management Australia, former Director General of NSW National Parks, and a former Deputy SES Commissioner.

Six representatives of ELCA, all former commissioners, spoke to media at the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Sydney this morning.

Deeply concerned with the unprecedented scale and ferocity of bushfire crisis

Greg Mullins, former Commissioner, Fire & Rescue NSW, said the group are deeply concerned with the unprecedented scale and ferocity of the current bushfire crisis. ‘Summer has barely begun but record numbers of homes have been lost in Queensland and NSW, major cities have been shrouded in smoke and destructive fires are burning across Australia.

‘Climate change is the key driver to the worsening conditions but the Federal Government remains in denial as far as credible action on emissions goes.

Mr Mullins says that over the weekend homes were lost near both Sydney and Perth, and a large 737 air tanker was sent from NSW to WA. ‘This underlines our grave concerns that despite the support and efforts of state and territory governments, of current fire chiefs and our brave firefighters, Australia does not have adequate resources to fight fires of this scale or to tackle worsening conditions and simultaneous fire seasons in years to come,’ he said.

‘Australia has become hotter and drier due to climate change, but politicians in Canberra seem incapable of admitting the link. There are no credible climate policies to phase out fossil fuels, or bring down emissions, and our government embarrassed us in Madrid.

A duty to fill Canberra’s leadership vacuum

On behalf of the group Mr Mullins said they feel a duty to fill Canberra’s leadership vacuum on the fires and will call our own national emergency summit after the current bushfire season to bring together a range of interested parties to look at how we can adapt to a far more dangerous environment. ‘The safety and well-being of communities, firefighters, and wildlife is on the line.

‘Our coalition of concerned leaders is growing, and we are not going away until we see action that matches the scale and urgency of the climate emergency and gives some hope for future generations,’ he said.

ELCA is releasing in full the list of recommendations it provided to Minister David Littleproud and Minister Angus Taylor in early December.

Worse conditions expected

Major General Peter Dunn (ret), Former Commissioner, ACT Emergency Services Authority, said that bushfires are burning simultaneously in several states and territories, and worse conditions are expected over the summer. ‘People’s lives and properties at risk; this is what climate change looks like.

‘Intense drought and extremely hot weather put unprecedented strain on firefighting agencies as well as firefighters, emergency workers, health services, and others. Australia needs a national approach to ensure that states and territories have the resources needed to keep people safe.

‘We have been calling for a bushfire emergency summit to work out a coordinated strategy for worsening extreme weather in the future. We will now take it upon ourselves to host it in March. The Prime Minister is invited to join us, and to show the leadership Australia badly needs on emergency management and climate action,’ said Mr Dunn.

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  1. I hope that this will include ‘all’ global warming issues including; storm surges, cyclones and infrastructure that can no longer cope with intense weather pattern change i.e. stormwater pipes flowing into a river, power cable that could be placed underground etc.

  2. The defence budget increased by 1 billion dollars this year, to a record 36 billion for 2019-2020. That is 100 million every day or 4 million every hour, 24/7. Do you feel safe? I think I would rather see at least the 1 billion going towards advanced firefighting technology.

  3. Thank you all, for stating the blindingly obvious !
    All politicians have a lot of fast talking to do explaining their total inadequacy in the face of dire need, to even attempt to perform their duty to the public. These clowns believe it critical to appease Multi-national business and increase the GDP , while we and the planet are just ‘cannon fodder’.
    How can we devise a system that answers to the real world and NOT political parties,factions nor defunct political theory ? A new way must be found attract decent candidates and not just gold-digging lawyers with their eye on exceedingly fat goverment Pensions and Super and no concern for the public good.

  4. So true, Ken. Canberra’s incapable of anything
    that needs doing. These no-hopers are a rat
    -pack of underbelly dead heads grovelling in a
    prepaid future that’s self organised. They don’t
    give a tick about anything. Scavengers in
    business suites get to run a country while Fire
    Chiefs & emergency groups are trying to save
    it. We’re stuck with these lily-livered-darling
    ‘yes ministers’. That’s enough from me…

  5. Not sure what agenda this putrid government has state and federal, what a pack of gutless self serving grubs who just seem to do what they want with no accountability, we have amazing men and women fighting for our environment while these parasites pay themselves fat salaries and sit on their hands , evil pathetic scum.

  6. Thankyou so much for what you do

    The P.M needs to be sued over this

    “nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity?”

    Martin Luther King

    • Yes i concur 100$% those Greens in our leadership groups in all levels of government are inept
      Deniers of reality!! But they know best dont they?
      When thousands of land owners and property owners were denied to manage their own properties
      To mitigate the potential for fires to engulf
      Their homes .. if anyone deserves legal action
      To come there way its the Greens ..”No Shame “

  7. Russia offered Australia large firefighting planes several bush fires ago, and “we”(read the neoliberal puppet politicians) declined. A friend who attends high level UN conferences since 2000 has spoken of the plan to free the land of those pesky small farmers and protesting forest dwellers, to be replaced with broad acre chemical pharming to feed the world regardless of our lands impoverished soils and poor water supply. Is our tame response to desecration of the forests part of this plan?
    The army should be out defending our land and surrender some of their abundant money used to buy US planes for attacking foreigners. Why exhaust vollie firemen when the paid army could do? Australia has abandoned its former humanist principles to suck up to the real power brokers; US banks.

  8. Thank God someone is coming to the non climate party. Everyone I talk to is very scared and feeling insecure that the Government is in denial and has frozen. Every time they announce bad news budget the are smiling as if we are kids. They are a bunch of whimps running scared and appear to have lost their way. That is the impression a lot of people have.

  9. They [the supposed pollies] both LNP & ALP should be
    sent back to primary school. The current students – all
    ages – would be only too ready to outline a new under
    -standing of relevant learning & responsibility.

  10. Great initiative – also need to consider large scale safe & viable water distribution and storage for future drought and fire amelioration and for general usage. We cant drink dust and ashes!

    With out water you fine it hard to fight fires and it quite clear to me that very few people in the bubble in Canberra understand how important it is to renew the water underground and capture it when it comes .
    We need to change our laws on land management in all States ,spend money on infer-structure stop telling farmers who understand the country why they can not build dams and wears in all our creaks or our grand children will die of dehydration in a few years time.
    Please walk up please, Please


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