Scott Morrison calls for bushfire royal commission amid devastation

Katie Ramirez
January 15, 2020

Morrison on Sunday acknowledged a groundswell of anger about the climate-fueled fires.

The "megablaze" front at the vast Gospers Mountain on Sydney's northwestern outskirts has been somewhat subdued by wet weather, and New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was a "small area of burning still to complete" but the "containment prognosis looks promising".

The fires, which have ravaged Australia for months, have spread quickly and overwhelmed efforts to contain them.

"We want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better at it", he said.

He said Morrison said the fires had made his government "think a little harder" in providing comfort and consolation to the victims. "I want to do that with a balanced policy that recognizes Australia's wider national economic and social interests".

Asked who respondents thought was "preferred prime minister", 39 percent of them said it is Morrison, nine points down.

The fires have emitted 400 megatonnes of carbon dioxide and produced harmful pollutants, the European Union's Copernicus monitoring program said.

Food air-dropped to animals caught up in bush fires crisis
The charity's Lyn White said: 'With roads likely shut for weeks, the risk of starvation for surviving wildlife is very real'. Around 1.25 billion animals are estimated to have died due to the blazes, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Over the weekend, thousands of protesters took part in rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, calling for Mr Morrison to be sacked and for Australia to take tougher action on climate change.

Mr Morrison rejected criticism that his government had not done enough before the bush fire season started, but he admitted that once the fires started, some responses could have been different. It's never a good thing to come across deceased wildlife such as koalas and kangaroos.

He outlined three main issues a commission would need to addresses, including greater involvement from the Federal Government to step in during natural disasters.

"The fact is that bushfires don't recognise state and territory boundaries", Albanese told reporters, according to a transcript provided by his media office.

Since October, thousands of Australians have been subjected to repeat evacuations as huge and unpredictable fires scorched more than 11.2 million hectares (27.7 million acres), an area almost half the size of the United Kingdom.

New South Wales (NSW) firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney's north-western outskirts, which has been burning for nearly three months.

In a statement released on Sunday Morrison said: "We need to ensure the trauma and mental health needs of our people are supported in a way like we never have before". The government is providing A$76 million (S$71 million) in areas including counselling and healthcare consultations.

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