Australian bushfires highlight need for global climate action

07 January 2020 12:15


The bushfires that have ravaged Southeast Australia since September 2019, killing 25 people and destroying over 2,500 buildings, highlight the ongoing need for climate action and adequate funding for public services, according to BWI Regional Vice President Dave Noonan. Noonan is also the National Secretary of the Construction and General Division of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) of Australia.

“The Australian Government has failed the nation in this crisis,” said Noonan. “They have attempted to sabotage global efforts to address climate change through binding international measures to reduce carbon emissions.” 

“The Government ignored warnings from fire and emergency experts that this fire season presented a massive risk of catastrophic bushfires. They ignored pleas to obtain more aerial firefighting appliances, and, failed to direct the defence forces to prepare to work with firefighting and emergency authorities ahead of summer.”

“Then at the height of the bushfires, the Prime Minister secretly absented from the country to go on holidays without informing the country or even appointing an acting Prime Minister. When forced to return after being caught out and publicly shamed by the media, he showed a complete lack of leadership in addressing the crisis.”

He treated firefighters and victims of the bushfires with cold disdain when they criticised his Government’s response, then released an advertisement praising the Government’s response, with a donation link to the Liberal Party’s political slush fund,” continued Noonan.

“As a national leader of a nation in crisis, Morrison is so bad he makes Menzies look like Curtin, Chamberlain look like Churchill and Petain look like De Gaulle.”

Allen Hicks, National Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) noted that while bushfires were a regular feature in Australia, this year they have been fueled by extreme heat, prolonged droughts and strong winds.

“A business-as-usual approach to the climate crisis will result in further loss of life and the devastation of our communities,” said Hicks. “We need determined and immediate action to transition away from fossil fuels while creating good jobs and quality public services, including in renewable energy generation as well as emergency services like firefighters.”

The CFMMEU Construction Division has donated $100,000 to the bushfire recovery effort, and has called upon the building industry to step up, match this donation and help rebuild communities affected by the fires.