Statement on Australia bushfires

09 January 2020

The Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Heather Wheeler, has made a statement on the bushfires in Australia.

The Australia bushfires have been ongoing since October. In the past four months bushfires in Australia have killed at least 25 people and displaced thousands more, with over 1,900 homes destroyed. Millions more have been affected by poor air quality from fire smoke, with 10 million acres of land burnt.

Peak summer temperatures are yet to come, say meteorologists. They predict that the fires will get worse before they get better.

Heather Wheeler MP: "our hearts go out to the Australian people"

The Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Heather Wheeler, told MPs that the fires had been "devastating". She extended her sympathy to the victims of the crisis, adding that "our hearts go out to the Australian people", and commended the work of the emergency services.

She stated that the Australian Government had accepted the Foreign Secretary's offer to deploy a team of specialists from Defence, Health and Fire to carry out an assessment into what type of support will be of most use to the emergency responders.

The Minister said:

“The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon have all been in contact with their Australian counterparts, to offer our condolences and stress our readiness to help in whatever way they need."

Fabian Hamilton MP: "point of no return"

Responding on behalf of the Opposition, Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Fabian Hamilton, also expressed condolences for those in Australia. He praised the efforts of emergency services, firefighters and citizens who risked their lives to save animals.

Mr Hamilton stressed the role of climate change in causing the bushfires. He noted that the leaders of American, Australia and Brazil deny the existence of climate change despite recently experiencing devastating wildfires. He called for the "globalisation of the green new deal", which would see countries join forces to reach a zero-carbon economy.

The Member concluded:

"The question we all face is how we address the challenges of climate change, how we keep the Paris Agreement on track and how we stop our world reaching the point of no return on global warming."

Image: David Mariuz/AAP/PA Images  

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