Greg Mullins, former NSW Fire Commissioner, tells ABC Melbourne today he is shocked at the severity of the fires in NSW and Gippsland, having fought fires right around the world.
He and current fire chiefs warned the Prime Minister months ago about the danger ahead and urged the government to talk honestly about climate change.
He says the business case put up by fire chiefs for a coordinated effort has been languishing for 2 years in Canberra and that the $11m put up is way too little, too late. Federal Government is funding only a tenth of the fire and emergency effort but the current fire chiefs know better than to ask for help in this political climate.
He says anyone blaming greenies for preventing back-burning and fire load reduction has no credibility. Parks managers have reduced fuel loads more than ever before but after 20 years of drying everything burns, even cut grass.
Here is his advice:
- We need many more large water tankers – we have only 7 compared with California with 35 – and that up to 30 medium sized aircraft could make a real difference.
- With fires across the country resources can’t be moved from state to state and this means the Prime Minister should call for assistance from the US, France and other fire-prone countries. John Howard, Kevin Rudd and other prime ministers did this in the past.
- The ADF is keen to assist and has large equipment that could be made available, eg. bulk water carriers. What’s stopping them is an order from Canberra.
He is furious and so are we.