STAFF EDITORIAL: Australia needs more action from its government right now

Staff Editorial

At least 3,000 firefighters have been pushing back against large bushfires in Australia, which have heavily affected states like New South Wales and Victoria, across the east coast. In nearly three months, the fires have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and killed 27 people, including four firefighters.

ABC has reported that 23 former fire chiefs have tried to warn Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April of the dangers this fire season and that Australia needed more water bombers in preparation, but they were never able to set up a meeting with Morrison or David Littleproud, the natural disaster and emergency management minister. 

As fire season reaches its peak, the bushfires have drawn in controversy and criticism from Australian citizens. At the forefront of their criticism is the government’s inaction. The New York Times reported that a leader of the Labor Party expressed his support for the coal industry during a tour of the mines and Morrison took a vacation to Hawaii during the crisis. According to The Guardian, the Australian government has announced that it will build two new gas-fired power stations as well as consider a coal-fired power station.

According to ABC, Morrison has received so much criticism that many had refused to shake his hand during a visit to a community affected by the fires.

Additionally, NPR reported Morrison has called for the government to launch an inquiry on Sunday to find the cause of the bushfires and if weather climate change had played a large role.

We at The Daily Eastern News believe the prime minister should take an active role in passing fire relief and prevention acts while working on climate change policies instead of promoting the use of fossil fuels.

Instead of focusing on popular vacationing spots or future power plants, Morrison should push more of Australia’s national funding toward fire prevention and relief. Morrison should implement fire safety policies, fire-hardened building policies and put more funds into training firefighters to safely back burn dry underbrush in the offseason so there’s less fuel. However, these are only temporary solutions to a growing problem.

Implementing temporary fire prevention measures will help keep future bushfires somewhat controlled, and it will allow Australia’s government time to find agreeable long-term solutions to fight climate change’s effects on the lengthening fire season.

Australia’s government also needs to heed the former fire chief’s warnings. If it had, perhaps the bushfires wouldn’t be so devastating.

The Editorial Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]