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Is the Abbott government fiddling while NSW burns?

AAP/Dan Himbrechts

For the Abbott government, it has emerged that talking about climate change during a “natural” disaster is taboo. Of course, how “natural” the NSW fires actually are is the issue here, as we witness over 100 separate fires across NSW. These fires are the likes of which have never been seen in the month of October anywhere in Australia, let alone this close to population centres.

Yesterday Greens MP Adam Bandt posted the following on Twitter that drew several reactions from LNP politicians.

Tony Abbott’s plan means more bushfires for Australia & more pics like this of Sydney.

Environment minister Greg Hunt condemned Bandt linking the NSW fires to Abbott’s perceived inaction on climate change, saying:

There has been a terrible tragedy in NSW and no-one anywhere should seek to politicise any human tragedy, let alone a bushfire of this scale.

But is this really politicising the fires, as if to gain some narrow political advantage for the Greens? Or is it in fact a gesture to point out how serious global warming actually is, and that without effective global action - especially from high carbon footprint nations like Australia - we are likely to expect more of such kinds of fire behaviour at very strange times of the year?

Notably, Bandt has not attributed just this one period of fires to global warming, and, as climate scientists will tell us, to ask of such a direct link is to ask the wrong question. But we can suggest that the dice is loaded toward such events occurring more frequently and in more intense forms.

Nevertheless, Bandt has been subjected to a barrage of censuring voices: on Twitter, on talkback radio, from LNP politicians and from unsigned opinion pieces on news.com.au.

Some of the Twitter scorn directed at Adam Bandt

Liberal MP Wyatt Roy has appeared on a Fairfax Media video clip with a personal story of how traumatising it is to lose a house. He retold events of a kitchen fire leading to the loss of his family home when he was younger.

Following Bandt’s tweet, prime minister Tony Abbott himself had sought to normalise the NSW fires.

Australia is a country which is prone to natural disaster but every time it strikes, it hurts and we grieve for all of those who are now hurting because of what’s happened in NSW.

Abbott is here tapping into an entrenched narrative that has been used for covering extreme weather events long before “global warming” and “climate change” entered our vocabulary, which might be called the “fury of nature” narrative. The other dominant narrative at play during these events is about how “Australians” can overcome adversity in times of crisis. These narratives are extremely powerful, and research at Monash University suggests they are the two most important ones relevant to the Black Saturday fires of 2009 and the Brisbane floods of 2011.

However, the study at Monash also reveals that it is precisely during extreme weather events that journalists have the best opportunity to communicate the reality of climate change. From a climate science standpoint, looking at the link is the wrong question, but from a media culture perspective it is exactly the right question at the right time.

The science alone, carbon policies, climate conferences - none of these topics arouse audience attention in any form of mainstream media more than extreme weather events do. This is why climate change deniers on Twitter and in parliament alike might want to jump on climate change at these times, much quicker than you can actually put out a fire.

The stakes could not be higher, and extraordinary vigilance will be needed by the deniers if the discussion is to be suppressed at these times. We generally do not jump on discussion of road safety when there has been a fatality: in fact, it raises our contemplation of what it means and makes urgent the steps for prevention. But with the inexorable march of global warming and as the NSW fires demonstrate, we are fast approaching a kind of media-climate equinox.

As the events increase in number and scale, they will advance so far into the daily lives of Australians that social and psychological issues will emerge — that will touch us so personally and deeply — as to require narrative symbolisation. For even the most tabloid journalism to ignore these issues when people are desperately searching for an explanation will not be possible. The “fury of nature” line is just not going to cut it.

There are signs of such an equinox arriving, and the media narratives are beginning to turn. News Corp, the largest newspaper group in Australia, has - in recent years - been avoiding any link between climate change and extreme weather. But an extraordinary editorial opinion piece in last Monday’s Daily Telegraph in Sydney led with the words:

There is almost no doubt that climate change is occurring and very little that human activity is a contributor.

Such a stance on climate change is a complete reversal of its past editorial position, and was put out on a day when fire was raging all over its front page.

Front page of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Monday, October 14.

In what is billed as a “World Exclusive”, the front page story opened with:

DEATHS from Sydney’s extreme heat are expected to triple by the end of the century as the city cops the brunt of global warming, a leaked climate change draft report warns.

The threat of bushfires will increase, another 800,000 people will fall ill each year from contaminated food and water and more than 270,000 homes will be at risk of collapsing into the ocean from rising sea levels. The unreleased draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s second report also warns that $226 billion worth of coastal assets are at risk with just a 1.1m rise in sea levels.

But, curiously, there was no adverse reaction on Twitter or from federal MPs to this unauthorised “leaked” story, or the fact that the tragedy of the mass destruction that had just happened in Port Stephens was being so directly linked to climate change.

The fact that there was no reaction suggests that what has hit a nerve with Bandt’s 70 character tweet was that it was critical of the Abbott government’s policies on climate change, rather than the link between climate change and the out-of-season nature of the fires. If this is the case, we might need to think again about who is politicising what in the midst of this ongoing inferno.

Join the conversation

128 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. David Stein

    Businessman

    Caught! In a web of their own making.
    Either it's an exceptional climate event caused by climate change, or it's just a regular beat up by News Ltd.
    Care to tell us which, Rupert?

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    1. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to David Stein

      Well it is obvious that introducing a CO2 tax hasn't worked. It's been in for 19 months and we've had the renewable entry target going for 4 years. Therefore, given this emphirical scientific evidence, there is no benefit in reducing bushfires and the CO2 tax and future ETS should be abolished forthwith.

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      CO2 tax and RET have worked in Australia, it's just that there's a delay between what people do and how the climate responds.

      As regular participants on this and similar topics may know by now, I'm not a fan of the Clean Energy Futures package, or its CPRS antecedent, or the Howard-era notion of an RET. I've been proposing and describing a much simpler, less corruptible, less expensive mechanism to achieve the requisite decrease in fossil fuel use for some time.

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    3. Patsy Lisle

      Teacher

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Hello, Would you watch the video of Deputy Chief CFA Victoria talking about the Black Saturday fires? http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/bushfires/ Or will you just keep putting your own view and ignoring what the people in the front line have to say? By the way, you will need to think if you want to understand the implications of what he's saying.

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    4. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, you are talking nonsense. Quantify the difference that the carbon tax has made to climate. You know you can't because ANYTHING we do in this country will make exactly ZERO difference. ANY action we take leads to a decreasing benefit because our emissions, as a percentage of total global are shrinking as those of India and China continue to soar.

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  2. Bernie Masters

    environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

    David Holmes is becoming quite tiresome as a self-proclaimed climate change expert. The reality is that, even if Australia was 100% carbon-free in its energy consumption, it would make no difference to the climate or weather of NSW and hence make no difference to the scale or severity of the current bushfires. Australia produces 1.5% of global GHG emissions, an amount that is dwarfed by the annual increases in contributions by developing countries like China. So for us to stop emitting GHGs will achieve nothing in the short term.
    Adam Bandt is politicising the climate change issue by preying upon the bushfire victims. Criticism of the newly elected federal government is absolutely without foundation or justification in relation to these bushfires.

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  3. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    I enjoy reading David's provocative commentary on the media's coverage of climate change. But this article has crossed a line - it's making a scientific claim that the bushfires are related to climate change.

    It would be like David making the case that viruses cause stomach ulcers.

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    1. David Holmes

      Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James,

      re: "But this article has crossed a line - it's making a scientific claim that the bushfires are related to climate change".

      I am not sure which part of the following sentences of my article you did not read:

      "as climate scientists will tell us, to ask of such a direct link is to ask the wrong question. But we can suggest that the dice is loaded toward such events occurring more frequently and in more intense forms."

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    2. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to James Jenkin

      I am not sure of your point Mr Jenkin, but I do know Australian doctors Warren and Marshall won a Nobel prize for proving that peptic stomach ulcers were caused by a bacterium, (not a virus) and thus could be cured by a course in antibiotics.

      Gerard Dean

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to James Jenkin

      What the hell are you talking about? Do you read any science at all? Is that hat you are wearing made of tin?

      Of course bushfires are related to climate change.

      Even the Murdoch Press covers the science

      ""EXTREME weather events, including destructive bushfires, will become more frequent as a result of climate change, according to scientists working on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

      The scientists behind the fifth assessment report from the United Nation's…

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    4. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to David Holmes

      That's great David, but it is not what Bandt was saying. HE has attacked the coalition for the effects of policies that aren't even in place yet all the while being incapable of quantifying the effects of the proposed greens policy on climate change. The guy is playing politics, plain and simple.

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    5. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to John Phillip

      The coalitions policies won't work.
      The coalition and the daily telegraph politicise climate change as a matter of routine and suggest we do not need to do anything. This in itself is political fallacy
      Adam Bandt is stating the obvious. Name an October when 110, 895 + (by the end of the week) has burned in NSW previously John.

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  4. Robert Heal

    Botanist

    Bushfires have been observed in NSW for 225 years now. And "major" events, at least once a decade. Is there any actual evidence that these fires are increasing ?
    Even back in August, when it was not hot, hazard reduction fires around Sydney were getting out of control. Why ? Not "global warming". Several years of above-average rainfall followed by a very dry spell this winter.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Robert Heal

      Hilarious Robert!

      So the bushfires were caused by unusually hot weather in September/October, which followed several years of above average rainfall and a very dry spell this winter.

      Gee - I have to ask if you are capable of putting two and two together and wondering - like the scientist that you claim to be - if there is anything which could possibly be causing a large number of out of the ordinary climate events to occur.

      Five seconds to answer.

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    2. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I'm wondering what caused these "extreme weather events" on another blog. This was when CO2 was 350-360ppm, as ahainst the 400ppm now:

      In case some people start saying that we never have bushfires in Sydney/NSW in October (like some fool who called in on the Steve Price Show last night), some FACTS:

      1. On October 16, 1991 two lives were lost at Kenthurst in the Shire of Baulkham Hills. Emergency declarations were made for the councils of Baulkham Hills, Gosford City, Wyong Shire and Lake Macquarie…

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Interesting facts Mike - what do they mean? That's what scientists do - they take facts and evidence and do an analysis in order to develop theories on what the facts might be trying to tell us.

      How about you share your analysis rather than just throwing up facts. Don't forget to include all the relevant facts though. Leaving inconvenient facts out of the discussion is the hallmark of a denier - and you wouldn't want anyone to think that you are one of those people would you?

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    4. David Holmes

      Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Mike,

      thanks for your research. The 1991 fires are the only comparable Spring fires of the ones you list, and notably they occurred in a top 20 record hottest year. But even though it too could be linked to climate change probabilities, the 1991 fires do not rival the current ones. As the Daily Telegraph reports this morning:

      "By last night, wild fires had already torched 86,000 ha, with some super blazes spanning 500km perimeters, leaving mountains of rubble and ash where people's homes once stood."

      16 Oct 1991: 30 blazes, 14 homes lost
      17 Oct 2013: 98 fires burning, 34 of them uncontained, over 100s homes lost.

      Note, the 86,000 hectares burnt out so far does not compare to Black Saturday which happened at the peak of a fire season in Victoria which burnt out 450,000 hectares and released heat equivalent to 1,600 Hiroshima Bombs.

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    5. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Bandt came out yesterday and said it was unheard of for NSW to have these bushfires in NSW in October. I think he's only seen bushfires in his local coffee shop in Melbourne in January.

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    6. David Holmes

      Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies at Monash University

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Mike,

      I am not sure why you wish to single out Bandt as though he is some kind of isolated radical. Would you say that the editors of the Sydney Daily Telegraph have become tear-away radicals in editorializing about the need to accept the science of climate change last Monday on the same day as the Port Stephens fires?
      Or what about the firefighters themselves, who are putting themselves on the front line as we speak?
      In a recent address to Parliamentarians: United Firefighters Union of Australia themselves have called for action.

      "We are asking you very clearly, stop making this a political football, put in place the action that's required to secure the future because by 2020 we are going to see a frequency like we've not seen before."

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    7. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to David Holmes

      When the torrent of Twitter abuse directed at Bandt from the climate cranks abated, a huge range of people started tweeting in defence of Bandt, pointing out that now is precisely the time that we need to be discussing climate change.

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    8. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to David Holmes

      See my post below re historical perspective. Comparing past fires would need to take into account change in urban sprawl over decades. There are numeorus weather events where similar disastrous could have occurred given the same level of population and development. You and Adam Bandt are comparing apples and oranges. Nothing new there.

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    9. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Robert Heal

      It's October Robert. Not usually a time associated with extreme fires.

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  5. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Okay, I'll bite.

      David Holmes is becoming quite informative in illuminating the minds and motives of those who refuse to acknowledge, let alone comprehend, the bleeding obvious.

      The reality is that if Australia was 100% free of fossil fuel use, then it would have done so by implementing a great deal of innovative technological development. In so doing it would have acquired considerable expertise with which it could make a good living for itself by licensing overseas - let alone the improved trade balance when Australia ceases importing petroleum, and becomes a net exporter of photosynthetically-originated biofuels.

      While it would make little difference to Australian climate and fires within the remaining miserable of w commentators, our heirs and successors will be grateful for our rare moment of forward thinking.

      Adam Bandt is to be supported in at least pricking the consciences of those who would rather just dream of the past.

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    2. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to David Arthur

      Ah, David, no such luck.

      Pray tell, what is it precisely that's so "bleeding obvious"?

      Adam Bandt, pricking conscience? One might expect rather that it is his conscience that needs pricking, in seeking to score a few cut-rate and plainly misdirected political points at the expense of real suffering.

      All this cheap moralising by the Greens is very much part of the problem we continue to face in this country; years and years of well-researched, well-planned remediation programs stalled and blocked by them on the basis of some obtuse "uncertainty principle", and their screaming abuse to which good people have for so long been subjected.

      Support them? No. The election on 7 September revealed what the constituency thinks of their bullshit.

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie, you opened with
      " David Holmes is becoming quite tiresome ......."
      Perhaps you ought to practice being less attacking of an author and make your review of the article, ie look at the message and don't shoot at the messenger!

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    4. In reply to Greg North

      Comment removed by moderator.

    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Mr Hardwick, what's bleeding obvious is that changes to the concentrations of the gases that regulate the dissipation of heat from earth's surface to space cannot do other than alter the climate.

      Perhaps this is not taught in Anthropology and English Literature. I strongly encourage that you undertake a journey of learning, starting with American Chemical Society's Climate Science Toolkit (http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience.html), after which you should have sufficient contextual knowledge to participate in this discussion as other than a gadfly.

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    6. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      "All the cheap moralising by the greens" etc. Yep, it's no match for the co-ordinated attack on climate science and our responsibility as a country. Cynical politicisation and ineffective expensive policy has become the reality for Australians. Bullshit is an interesting word for you to use.

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  6. Mike Farrell

    Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

    I take it David that you would agree then with me, that Adam Bandt sat on his bum as 500+ boat died of drowning whilst he was in the House of Representatives. It's the same as saying Tony Abbott is responsible for these current bushfires. And of course we know it is the ALP that is truly responsible for them, because they were in power for the last six years and didn't stop them !!!!!!

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      "...Adam Bandt sat on his bum as 500+ boat died of drowning whilst he was in the House of Representatives...."

      Really Mike? And what, pray tell, is the Green's policy on refugees and is it your considered view that Adam Bandt never raised that policy in parliament?

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    2. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      He raised it in Parliament ineffectively and thus shares the blame. His party controlled the Senate after all and had an agreement with the ALP.

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      If I can in my own terms of convolution add to that of Mikes convolution Mike ( too many Mikes on TC why is that so! ), about the time Julia Gillard was nominating her special three man committee and Rob Oakeshott had weighed in with his private members bill, I recall also a bill being raised by the LNP which would have reverted to use of TVPs and as it was the 3MC came close to what the coalition had proposed which was much as they previously had in place.
      If Adam Bandt and the Greens in the Senate had accepted the LNP Bill, perhaps there would have been some earlier reduction in numbers of boats and less people drowning.

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    4. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Greg North

      And the crocodile tears of the conservatives who suddenly decided they cared about the deaths of asylum seekers.

      After years of dehumanising and demonising them when in government. Of refusing to even let them attend the funerals of their family members.

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  7. Mike Farrell

    Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

    Statistically speaking, bushfires have increased as more National Parks have been created. Therefore, National Parks cause bushfires and deaths. It's irrefutable.

    Further, the more Greens elected to Parliament, the more bushires.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Statistically speaking, bushfires have increased the more often Mike Farrell posts on the Conversation.

      In the best interests of the country, I think you should stop Mike.

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    2. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Nah - I have too much fun pointing out the bleeding obvious !!!!!!

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Quite a claim Mike. Back it up with evidence please/

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    4. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      From that citadel of global warming alarmism, that taxpayer funded "The Climate Institute" yesterday:

      "It’s time to face up to real and growing climate change risks and impacts, such as the growing severity and frequency of our bushfires, The Climate Institute said today after yesterday’s historic fire weather danger." So that covers my claim over more bushfires. They wouldn't lie or get their facts wrong - would they.

      And as to my comment about National Parks - the ABS Australian Year Book for 1997 states there were 462 national parks, whereas there are 516 right now.

      Ipso facto there is a direct correlation between increasing bushfires and increasing national parks !!!!!!!!

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    5. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      Statistically speaking, bushfires have increased as populations have grown. Therefore, humans cause bushfires, property damage and deaths. This too is irrefutable ;)
      Since there's plenty of Liberals in Parliament, why not expect them to stop the fires by enacting effective actions? Surely a whole gaggle of Liberals can do much more than a handful of Greens can ;)

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    6. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Yes, the current NSW state government is indeed Liberal, as is the new federal government.

      But we've had Labor predominantly in power in NSW since WWII - Jim McGirr, Joe Cahill, Nifty Wran, Bob Carr, Morris Iemma - and in Canberra for the past six years - KRudd, JGillard, Bob Carr (oops, who's that again) - specifically in bed with the Greens.

      We have had the same situation in the Lower Southwest of Western Australia, in deep forest country where dysfunctional local government has long been dominated by a loose gaggle of Labor and Greens activists, which in the long process has also become even more dangerous in terms of wild bushfire risk.

      Go anywhere in Australia you wish, and look up the many and various histories of local, state and federal governments. No problem, go for it. See for yourself who's been on watch all this time.

      What argument is being made here in pointing the finger at the Liberals?

      It's entirely vacuous, granted punctuated by little winkies.

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    7. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      An argument being made here is if the Greens have somehow flexed their indomitable powers in parliament to force ALP governments to create the legislation needed to stymy solutions of such important problems, then why haven't the coalition governments since leaped in and put real solutions into process.

      That a "loose gaggle of Labor and Greens activists" can somehow influence the Liberal state government in WA's now appalling record of fire management, begs the question:

      What has the WA State Government been doing for now five years in power?

      Look at the farce of the Margaret River fires of 2011.

      No, I think blaming "activism" or "green groups" for the failures of the WA State Government fire policies is disingenuous.

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    8. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Hi Gil, since my comment was in response to Mike, not yourself, what's your issue with it exactly? You seem to be talking about historical political power in NSW - your point being? In what way is it related to my comment????
      I might also point out that the Liberals are usually 'in bed with' the Nationals - a reflection of your Labour/Greens description - although I have no idea how sleeping arrangements come into the issue either.
      Yes, well noted that I used 'winks' since Mike's correlations really prove nothing at all which is why I used similar 'reasoning' to make that point - maybe the joke was lost on you, please forgive my unusual sense of humour as I forgive others' lack of it at times...

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  8. Paul Felix

    Builder

    For those who applauded Abbott politicizing everything this is certainly a taste of their own medicine.
    Except there is a difference, these events are predicted to increase in both frequency and intensity, it has been the recurring message from scientists for 20 years, therefore, unlike claiming Whyalla would be wiped off the map - which was a lie, this is saying the blindingly obvious.
    A sad day when telling the truth becomes unacceptable but lying is rewarded.
    The issue isn't that the steps taken have not solved the problems, the issue is that the steps taken have been so unbelievably pathetic as to be useless.
    A. Brandt's point is that Abbott's, and his like, denial of science is going to make it worse. That is pretty well indisputable now, well except those who continue to deny science.
    More worrying is Abbott saying this is normal activity, his denial of science will only cause more problems in the future.

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  9. Jan Arens

    logged in via Facebook

    That is such a good observation David, Thank you.
    I watched talking heads on tv happy to claim superior prowess in response to floods in my area compared to previous governments. But when asked if the fact that these 1 in 100 years events now having occurred 4 times in the last six years may be indicative of a changed climate, the response was feigned indignation at the interviewers insensitivity.

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  10. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Ah yes the indignation! The outraged concern!

    "...no-one anywhere should seek to politicise any human tragedy..." from the fellas who have waged a relentless tabloid terror campaign on families fleeing wars and oppression.

    But the Greens' MPs must be most careful not to go for the obvious, lest the be portrayed by the cheapest players in the game as acting cheaply. Far better for a squad of Greens to be volunteering on the front line, or sorting things for those who have lost their homes. More doing less preaching folks.

    Equip yourselves with some green hi-viz vests and get yourselves out and about where it counts. Play the different game differently.

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Not without a bit of training Mike... the last thing the RFS, CFA and the like need is a mob of enthusiasts running about causing trouble by adding themselves to the fuel load.

      But they can do the hard yards of helping support the front line firies and helping folks who have just lost most if not all of what they had... finding accommodation, making cups of tea, holding the odd hand, just lending a shoulder to cry on ... lots of help needed... but very little preaching and finger pointing if any at all. Folks can and will work that out for themselves.... surprisingly quickly actually.

      Greens have to learn not to fall for the politics of posture as practised by the major parties - they have to do things differently - with the emphasis on the doing.

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    2. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter at Trophy hunter

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      You hope some of our elected lawmakers get killed fighting a fire? Nice.

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  11. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Incidentally, I spent a couple of driving about in the burned areas north of Newcastle yesterday ... lots of roads closed and backtracking involved but it was a rather strange sight. Essentially the biggest hazard reduction burn I've ever seen. The trees were still carrying most of their leaves (albeit brown) but the ground was stripped clean - a very big grass bracken fire not too hot and not too high.

    It's a very different sort of vegetation - few eucalypts - coastal wallum forest... banksias…

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Do you call that a rubber neck tour or just a smoking hot affair Peter?

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  12. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    David, here is some background information by climate scientists that some readers could find useful on the subject you're addressing in your article. "Climate change and consequences on the ground" @ 13 March 2013 http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/03/climate-change-and-consequences-on-the-groud/ "Why bother trying to attribute extreme events?" @ 20 September 2012 and for past perspectives "On record-breaking events" @ 1 August 2005 http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/08/on-record-high-temperatures

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  13. Anna Ross

    Healthcare professional

    NO, no. The real villains in this are the moronic Greens who have convinced weak, idiotic state ALP governments not to do control burns in state forests. You are beneath contempt for trying to blame Tony Abbott. Perhaps this will be the nail in the coffin of the climate change fools in promoting their lies. A bridge too far this time? One can only hope.

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Anna Ross

      Strangely enough - having had a bit of experience at this - I actually agree Ms Ross ... not so much the 'moronic greens' but the accountants who don't adequately fund the management of National Parks and other vegetation about the place. We should be burning far more, far more often and keep hammering at it systematically every year.

      Bush needs management and that needs money and resources.

      Leaving the regrowth and the lovely leafy vistas alone is not an option at all ... unless we want more and more of this. It would also help if we knew how to do it better and safer.

      So I hope you'll be demanding increased funding for burning our parks in future Ms Anna - it comes with the turf.

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    2. Anna Ross

      Healthcare professional

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Money is not the problem. Successive ALP state governments needing green preferences from voters living in inner-city apartments, have made it extremely difficult for bush firies to burn scrub. This is the result. Be ashamed, very ashamed Australia for listening to these Green morons.

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    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Anna Ross

      Well you might say that money isn't the issue ms Ross but let me assure you that it is. Or should be.

      It is absurd that we would rely on volunteers to undertake such routine and constant work. The RFS is fine for emergencies, but we are talking a constant use of fire all over the state. A professional approach.

      That mean more than relying on the goodwill of the best of us. That means a serious professional commitment to landscape management and that involves serious money, resources and training.

      So start demanding your local MP puts decent money into burning the place a bit. Much more constructive than finger-pointing. It's not like wildfires - even catastrophic fires - have been a recent phenomenon in Australia... seems pretty crude politics to be blaming anyone rather than working out what we should do.

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    4. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Anna Ross

      Well, lets see how quickly and effectively things improve now theres the Coalition in charge in NSW and Federally.

      But I do have to ask, if the Coalition have now had more than two years to work on this problem, where are the solutions? Now they have no longer had to listen to Green morons, the list of improvements to fire management should be long and distinguished.

      That it is not rather torpedoes your desperate accusations.

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Ms Ross does not appear to be aware that the state goverment in NSW is the LNP.

      As you say Peter, the teapartiers apparently only want to fund government and consequently the departments that do hazard reduction and the fireservices that fight them after a fire breaks out. Not very useful really.

      For the record, here is the NSW Greens actual policies as opposed to Ms Ross's fantasy version.

      "+ planning of housing sites to avoid development in risk prone areas;
      + strategically planned hazard reduction, including controlled burning, where and when climatic conditions allow it to be done safely and where it is consistent with maintaining the ecosystem;
      + education and community awareness programs to reduce the incidence of arson; and
      + a well funded and managed fire fighting service which can protect human life and homes and contain the spread of fires."

      http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/bushfires

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      There you go again Mike hurling your incendiary facts about. As if that's going to change anything!

      Folks like Ms Ross and me know who's really to blame for everything evil and indecent in the world and we don't need your facts getting in the way of a decent session of stone throwing and finger-pointing thankyou very much.

      We never had fires like this before there was all this talk about gay marriage did we?

      We know it's the Greens at the root of the whole sorry business whatever it is, no matter what they say - so you just keep your facts to yourself Mr Hansen and let us get on with blaming whoever we like.

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    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Anna Ross

      I'm not sure that anti-Green invective is warranted, Ms Ross; while they do advocate more national parks, they also advocate prudent management of the same Parks.

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    8. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Anna Ross

      Be ashamed, very ashamed Australia for listening to morons who can't tell the difference between gazetted National Parks and fringe scrub on the outer edges of cities.

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    9. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Anna Ross

      We have a local rural bush fire brigade, they give up many of their weekends, even weekdays if necessary. They are expected to look to protect more and more properties on the peri-urban fringe. Like everything else that runs on volunteer services, it's getting harder to find volunteers and the average age is on the way up.
      Much of our country is run by volunteers, not just politicians.
      If you are so concerned about how and what gets burned, why not volunteer for your local firies rather than blame politicians of many colours in a faraway parliament? If it's an issue you are "fired up" about, do something about it.

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    10. Sebastian Poeckes

      Retired

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Right on, Peter! It's the accountant mentality which has starved the land management bodies of funds for essential management activities for years. Pest control, weed control, fire control - they none of them produce an immediate positive effect on the all important bottom line. It's that short-sighted approach to administration which loses sight of what should be the real goals of public land management.

      And it's not the greens who have forced state governments to limit control burning, it's…

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  14. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " DEATHS from Sydney’s extreme heat are expected to triple by the end of the century as the city cops the brunt of global warming, a leaked climate change draft report warns. "
    There's nothing like senasationalism for newspapers and it appears also to be used by the IPCC.
    There is one more technical article on TC about bushfires and there beinge several reasons they can start, forest floor fuel loads adding to their intensity.
    Obviously, the more people go and build in heavily forested areas the…

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  15. xeroxcliche

    logged in via Twitter

    unlike a lot of other natural events fires can be attributed to climate change. Fire departments have developed a large array of indicators for fire risk and fuel loads and they have seen most of them jump up dramatically - welcome to the future

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  16. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    It is always quite bizarre to see discussion of the current early starting bushfire season being done in the absence of historical perspective. I say bizarre because the means for the media to compare and check for previous events of similar magnitude, or past weather events that could have been equally disastrous if they occurred with the current distribution of sprawling housing at the bush suburb interface, is now easily accessible through the internet. If David Holmes had taken a moment to search…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Are you aware that given the fire conditions, creating and setting fire to strawmen is likely illegal?

      "The current conditions are unusual but not without precedent"

      You do realise what a record is?

      "A prolonged heatwave affected southeast Australia between 2 and 13 March 2013, breaking numerous records, especially for the duration of persistent hot days and nights. The event followed Australia’s hottest month on record in January, and warmest summer on record from December 2012 to February…

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    2. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      And yet we have documentary evidence of similar weather creating the conditions for intense fires at this time of year on numerous occasions in the past.

      PS temperature is only one part of the bushfire equation. Here's a link so you can add the other parts....

      http://www.ga.gov.au/hazards/bushfire/bushfire-basics/causes.html

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    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Do we have similar patterns of weather in September Mr Hendrickx? Or is the BoM just spreading more weather warmist alarm when they release data on the hottest September on record?

      It's all a moot point really ... political folks like yourself can argue all day about the weather ...won't change a thing ... me I'd rather listen to the actual experts who do this stuff for a living. And they are worried.

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    4. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Look for yourself Peter....http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

      as you should know high temps just one part of the bushfire equation.

      These articles of note....
      State wide heat, Bushfires. Sydney homes in Danger. SMH 13/9/1946
      Heat in Sydney. The West Australian 9/9/1940
      Drought and Bushfires The Advertiser Friday 13 September 1895
      Bush Fires, Heat And Fierce Winds The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 21 September 1945
      1965...HOTTEST SEPTEMBER DAY Early bushfires widespread, The Canberra Times…

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    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      No argument or disagreement at all Mr Hendrickx - we've had some very bad fires and some very hot days .... but we have never had a september as hot as the last one... in fact it broke a record that had stood intact for 33 years.... and this follows the hottest year since records were begun http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/national/australia-has-warmest-year-on-record-bom/story-e6frfku9-1226710010303

      Heat - it does this. Get used to it. Even better work out what to do about it. Denying it endlessly really isn't much of a help.

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    6. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      records broken all the time Peter in a world warming in a luke warm way! Not denying it.

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    7. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,
      The dots can be connected in more than one way, and while we had had a record hot spring thus far it doesn't necessarily follow that summer will follow the same pattern.

      It's not a game, best pass that on to your mate Adam.

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    8. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Not my mate.

      But thinking one is smarter than the pros - can solve it all by swallowing the right lines from a few dodgy blogs and spewing them out - yep, that's a game.

      I'm not sure what dots you might be joining Marc - what other interpretation can be put on the hottest September in the hottest year... sunspots? not happening? lies and plots?

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    9. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,
      Games? Then why don't you stop playing them?

      PS do be careful extrapolating things in a simple straight line. It's already got the IPCC in trouble.

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    10. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Oh no straight lines are extremely rare in nature Marc ... don't believe in 'em. But I do tend to accept the evidence of experts over comforting blogs. And those numbers don't look good.

      It would be beaut if the dismal news from the BoM proved to be a passing phase. Doesn't seem so though... oscillations about a rising mean.

      Never been one for placing big bets on hopes and wishful thinking. How about yourself?

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  17. Gary Murphy

    Independent Thinker

    Wow - conservatives complaining about someone politicising climate change? These people have turned hypocrisy into an art form.

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  18. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      "First, bushfires are plainly not caused by climate change, but someone lighting them."

      Pathetic strawman. No one is claiming that. Here is the science.

      From an interview with David Jones, head of climate analysis at the Bureau of Meteorology in the SMH.

      "David Jones, head of climate analysis at the Bureau of Meteorology, said climate change will see fire conditions worsen for much of Australia over the longer run.
      While weather patterns vary from year to year, southern Australia is…

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    2. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      That's only a small part of the Science. David Jones only considers a small part of the bushfire equation-temperature. Important factors he overlooks are fuel load, humidity, slope angle, aspect and wind speed. The current high loads a result of vegetation growth from higher than average rainfall over the last few seasons. If there is little fuel the intensity of fire is much reduced.

      In regard to the weather conditions -nothing unprecedented about them as the NLA links I posted elsewhere here testify.

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    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      I suppose the BoM aren't to be taken seriously Mr Hendrickx ... http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/month/aus/summary.shtml

      or here: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a005-sep-2013-warmest-on-record.shtml

      Of course it is possible to find hotter days, that is what weather does after all. But hotter days month after month day after day starts to look like climate to me, record breaking Septembers.

      Of course it could just be all that excess CO2 'plant food' in the atmosphere.

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    4. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Once again Peter a hot day is just part of the issue.

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    5. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      What? Are you actually trying to tell us here, Mike, that the climate starts fires?

      Well, yeah, sure. No matter what someone says, please do, empirically, show us how.

      We know for a fact that in most cases someone has lit the fire either deliberately or inadvertently - sometimes as simply as sparks from an angle grinder. People are not "claiming that" they are reporting the fact directly.

      Your newspaper source, I can only guess intended to support your argument that climate lights bushfires…

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    6. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Don't panic Peter, as the luke warming continues there will be plenty of more records to come.

      When these record hot days are accompanied by high winds, low humidity and high fuel lows and housing at the suburb/forest interface more tragedies will occur. This might be a good place to start the conversation.

      Bandt's notion of tackling one part of this equation with a tax that will not actually do anything to affect any part of the equation is characteristic of how simplistic the debate has come for some ignorant politicians.

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    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc I know you political types have some trouble grasping this but the ETS is not in fact a tax... it operates very differently economically speaking. It's just a technical sort of thing.

      Personally I'm more a simple back of the axe sort of bloke when it comes to taxes and sending market signals into the economy...I reckon the ETS was always a wimpy sort of strategy. Too gentle and subtle by half ... too slow to bite and too complicated for folks to comprehend. And now too little too late.

      Keep calling it a tax if it helps but really it was a long way short of a nice simple tax.

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    8. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, seeing you know so much about it. By how much did the "ETS" reduce temperatures this week?

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    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Wouldn't have a clue... like I said I'm actually not a big fan of the ETS approach ... too nebulous, difficult to measure, too hard to measure results.

      I'm a recovering economist. And when it comes to taxes I like 'em blunt and simple. I'd much prefer a nice hard back-of-the-axe tax designed to absolutely cripple high emission industries.

      Lots of ways that sort of effect can be measured - by howls of outrage from vested interests, by declining cement production, by collapsing share prices, by employees on retraining programs, by redundant executives... simple , blunt and fast. No messing about.

      That's economic rationalism for you - beats this ETS economic irrationalism hands down I reckon. Too sooky by half. Let's give carbon the Thatcher treatment.

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    10. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Under your system it seems no one will be able to afford your strawberrys.

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    11. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      You have the makings of a green grocer with that sort of spelling.

      Not really too ugly a tax - the sledgehammer/wrecking ball would be quite specifically targetted - we wouldn't see mass unemployment but there would be a fair bit of structural adjustment to do - mostly retraining and moving folks around the place a bit. The easiest way would be to knock off one sector at a time - a nice crippling tax on cement production for a start.

      Some things we now make we'd be importing from folks…

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    12. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      "Are you actually trying to tell us here, Mike, that the climate starts fires?" Err, no, Mr Hardwick, I don't think that's his purpose.

      It may be a difficult concept for some to grasp (please work your way through American Chemical Society's Climate Science Toolkit, http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience.html), but climate can make it more or less likely, year by year, whether a bushfire will go out by itself or spread as a near-explosive conflagration - or anywhere in between.

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    13. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Let's face it, Peter, if we got rid of all the red tape, sorry, GREEN tape, we'd have a nicely contoured park-like landscape across the width & breadth of the wide brown. The gentle hand of free-market realism would rid those nasty forests & scrublands of all their hostile intent. And all done without any need for research. Divine solutions would be mediated by an unelected hierarchy and feudal economy.
      Steve Bell http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cartoon/2013/oct/17/steve-bell-if-paul-dacre is onto the big picture.

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    14. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Hi, Gil, maybe I can help explain. It's clear to me that climate change increasingly creates the conditions for bush fires: higher temperatures, more energy (higher winds, more rain) in weather systems allowing for build up of fuel on the ground, followed by extended dry spells and fuelling hot dry winds.
      No-one impersonated 'climate change' and gave it a match, but any car backfiring, any teenager playing with matches or careless camper can now have a much greater impact, thanks to climate change.

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    15. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      Gentle contours ... heck no Trevor nothing gentle about markets. If you want to see what markets do it's easily spotted on our delightful urban fringes ... in fact now that I think of it, I'm wondering why we bother defending them at all really... let nature take its course.

      And as for those silly altruistic selfless folks actually volunteering - strewth don't they understand Ayn Rand at all? ... Altruism is a weakness Trevor ... we should leave these fringe dwellers to manage their own affairs. By help[ing we're just undermining their resilience and self empowerment. Heck yeah.

      I've decided to set one day a week aside for extolling Thatcherite market worship. It's very therapeutic. Very much part of the zeitgeist.

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    16. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Good on yer, Peter. Talk about the weak! That "Oh, please, do not politicise the issue" is typical. The Teabaggers weren't squealing like that when they stood up to Obama and made him blink. What a victory, and one for our own little pals from Cecaust to emulate.
      Anyway, if you have another spare day, and can dial up Netflix on your pedal radio, catch up with 'House of Cards'. Exploitation of weaknesses as an art-form and guarantee of political success.
      Hope you caught up with https://twitter.com/davpope/status/391386015249596416 and his "third panel". Cheeky!

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  19. Jai Parratt

    logged in via Facebook

    interesting if you go to Tony Abbots Facebook page you you will see him posing in full fire fighting gear, is this making making political a statement of some sort .Reminds of Putin

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jai Parratt

      To his credit, Tony Abbott actually does volunteer. To that extent, he's fair dinkum.

      Beyond that, he's as Australian as Herbert Badgery.

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  20. Gil Hardwick

    anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

    It does need to be pointed out further, it seems, that NSW since WWII has been dominated by Labor.

    Residential planning is not a Federal matter but state, and serious questions need to be asked on how all the building in dry schlerophyll forest came to be approved.

    While Abbott is the member for Warringah, which I dare concede is Sydney northern suburb, I find no record that he ever sat in the NSW parliament.

    If there is to be pointing of fingers, the obvious targets are Nifty Wran, Bob Carr and Morris Iemma.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      The current government of NSW is the LNP. Has been for the last 2 1/2 years.

      I appreciate that it can be easy to overlook facts when you are so busy bloviating.

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    2. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      LNP in government in NSW for the past 2 1/2 years?

      What, Mike, are you seriously trying to have us believe that this climate change has all come about in the last 2 1/2 years, caused by the Liberal Party being in government in NSW?

      And you've found a new word, have you?

      Bloviating. Rolls around on your tongue, does it?

      Fun, words, aren't they.

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    3. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      The obvious point is that there's been a coalition government for 2 1/2 years.

      The ALP are no longer in power.

      The coalition have had 2 1/2 years to act on the ALP's (no doubt bullied by The Greens) ineffectual fire policies.

      Why haven't they?

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    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Err, a great deal of Sydney's outer suburban expansion occurred under the Premiership of Bob "Plain Brown Envelope" Askin.

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    5. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      And here I thought you were talking about residential planning, not climate change, Gil - how did the response to who is in charge of residential planning for the last 2 1/2 years turn into 'climate change has all come about in the last 2 1/2 years' in your understanding?

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  21. Dallas Beaufort

    logged in via Facebook

    Nanny states ignorance of excessive fuel loads is conveniently missing in action as usual..

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  22. Rene Oldenburger

    Haven't got one

    DEATHS from Sydney’s extreme heat are expected to triple by the end of the century as the city cops the brunt of global warming, a leaked climate change draft report warns.

    So how many deaths are currently contributed to heat in Sydney

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  23. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Hunt condemns Bandt "for politicising human tragedy". It is already politicised Mr Hunt. Ignoring the problem because it is ideologically counter to the profit motives of the unfettered economic 'rationalism' of neoliberalism pushing maximum carbonising of the atmosphere via massive and increasing coal exports is political. These are anthropogenically aggravated "natural disasters". In Sean's link to the realclimate site it is written "Detecting the changes in probabilities in rare (extreme) events…

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  24. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    On the NSW South Coast, Eucalypt regrowth on what was formerly grazing land allowed a vast build up of fuel which threatened to repeat deaths and property destruction.
    Local residents were encouraged to take matters into their own hands and went out from their backyards armed with the garden equipment and "harvested" the unnatural fuel from the worlds largest opportunist flowering weed.
    By doing so they not only saved themselves but stopped the local rainforest from being overtaken by the eucalypts.
    These people and the others who emulated them elsewhere did not wait for permission, they took matters into their own hands.
    And what ever local native animals which persisted in the area were saved as well.
    The local "Authorties" were presented with a fait accompli.
    Grass-roots participatory democracy in action?

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  25. Comment removed by moderator.

  26. Comment removed by moderator.

  27. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    It might be that climate change deniers, by force of their blog-postings, may win the debate about bushfires being 'natural'[.

    However, insurance companies are raising premiums in bushfire or flood prone areas. And eventually, these inescapable 'costs' to householders and businesses will be too hard for even Tony Abbott to deny.

    In Victoria the 'fire levy' has been incorporated into rate payments, so all homes, not just insured ones, are covered in the event of fires.

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    1. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      Lee - Why should people who choose to live surrounded by gum trees expect their houses to be subsidised by others in the event of fire. If you plonk your home next to (or in) a national park full of trees, you have to expect the occasional fire. Same with flood prone areas.

      As to the Victorian fire levy, it was raised to fully fund the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority. It has no insurance coverage. I suggest you google it.

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  28. John C Smith

    Auditor

    What a sick man is Adam Bandit, try making political point scoring from bush fires. Factory fires, electrical fires (green electricity is fire proof) and all sorts of other fires are also caused by Abbot.

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  29. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    Bandt made a COMPLETE arse out of himself in attempting to link the LNP's climate policy to increased bushfire activity because he totally unable to quantify the difference that their policy will make in comparison to the green's policy. The guy is just a political opportunist and deserves every single piece of flak he cops. Thankfully, this sort of shrill rabid idiocy is out in the public forum where voters can see it, hear it and make up their own minds. The greens lost about 30% of their vote at he last election. With Bandt's rhetoric of lies, it's easy to see why.

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  30. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    David Holmes

    This article is totally illogical.

    Since the connection between bushfires, flooding and extreme events to climate change is at the bottom level of belief even of the IPCC, and the connection if any is a purely scientific argument, the suggestion here that these events should legitimately be used as pure propaganda to bang the drum on CC seems to be well - quite deceiptful.

    The author has no connection with the scientific argument, and makes no connection with historical events…

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to John Nicol

      "Emeritus professor" Nichol,

      Deceitful, lightning, strikes not strokes.

      Playing with straw men in such weather is highly dangerous. No one is saying global warming causes or starts fires, but gee it changes the way they behave... bigger, faster, hotter and far far less predictable.

      The hottest September on record following the hottest year on record and you get very nervous firefighters indeed.

      You political fellas seem intent on pushing your square-wheeled barrow - nothing is happening, business as usual - I would have thought you'd have learned how to spell 'deceitful' well before this.

      Listen to the firefighters Mr Nichol - you might learn something.

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