In a media release issued by the Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management, Murray Watt, on next season’s bushfire report from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre he warns that "The Morrison Government must learn from its mistakes and take heed of fresh warnings in a report from Australia’s leading bushfire research centre, released today. The Shadow Minister adds "The seasonal bushfire outlook from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) re-affirms earlier reports that Australia faces more intense bushfires due to climate change." The outlook, which runs through to September, flags a higher than normal risk of bushfires for WA’s Kimberley region and the NSW South Coast in particular. The report also warns that generally “the tendency for fire seasons to become more intense and fire danger to occur earlier is a clear trend in Australia’s climate…Fire season severity is increasing across much of Australia…” "September... this is before we’ve even reached the peak of the bushfire season.The BNHCRC’s seasonal outlook is a reminder that the 2019-20 bushfire season was not an isolated incident, but something that governments must be prepared for from now on. "In the lead up to the 2019-20 bushfire season, the Morrison Government ignored warnings of above-average fire risk from the BNHCRC, Emergency Management Australia (EMA), ex-fire chiefs and the Opposition. Australia cannot afford to be caught on the back-foot once again. Mr Watt was clear in his statement "Communities in NSW and across Australia are still reeling from the devastation, which saw millions of hectares burnt, thousands of homes destroyed and thirty three lives lost. "Already there are worrying signs that the Morrison Government is not adequately preparing for this year’s fire season, including:
Failing to spend a dollar of the $50 million set aside for disaster mitigation in the Emergency Response Fund,
Refusing to extend funding for the BNHCRC past June 2021, which would leave Australia with less bushfire research when fire risk is rising. The need to extend funding has been highlighted time and time again by witnesses in the bushfire royal commission, as well as today by the Insurance Council of Australia during the Senate inquiry - Lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20.
Failing to listen to the science on the link between climate change and increasing natural disasters, and to take more meaningful action on climate change.
"We have seen the Federal Government listen to the science on COVID-19. We must now see them listen to the science on climate, so we are better prepared for bushfires in the future" the Shadow Minister said.