The nation’s second highest-ranking official has rejected an environmental theory for possibly causing widespread wildfires across parts of the East Coast.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack slammed activist claims that rising emissions and climate change were fuelling bushfires in Queensland and New South Wales, saying such statements were “disgraceful, disgusting” and typical of “raving inner-city lunatics”.
“What people need now is a little bit of sympathy, understanding and real assistance, they need help, they need shelter,” McCormack said in a broadcast interview according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they’re trying to save their homes.”
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‘Protecting’ coal companies
The deputy PM also refused to meet with former NSW Fire and Rescue deputy commissioner Ken Thompson and others from the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, which wants the government to reject new coal mines and allow independent authorities to continue considering downstream carbon emissions from coal exports.
“Our policymakers should be protecting people by doing something about climate change, not protecting the profits of coal companies,” Thompson said in a public statement. “While the state burns, the NSW government is weakening legislation around approving new coal mines, removing the requirement for consent authorities to consider the downstream greenhouse gas emissions from coal when it is burned.”
Fire danger was expected
Opposition Senator Penny Wong said the government has known about the fire danger for a long time and the government should focus on putting out the fires, saving people at risk and grieving the three lives that were lost.
“Warnings about a longer bushfire season and more intense fires have been on the table for a long time,” Wong said according to AAP. “When we get through this, it is a responsible thing for us to focus on how we plan to keep Australians safe.”
The blaze has also claimed 150 homes in NSW. There are up to 47 fires burning in southeast Queensland.