Labor welcomes eco-fund but Morrison Government slow to act on Ecological Crisis

13 January 2020

The Morrison Government has been slow to act on Australia’s ecological crisis caused by the bushfires and must provide full details of how today’s funding announcement will be deployed.

Labor welcomes the belated additional funds for Australian wildlife recovery announced today. 

The government’s woeful record includes cutting environment department funding by almost 40%, and waiting vast amounts of time between announcing funding and actually spending it.

This funding must mobilised quickly. It can’t be left to languish in the government’s coffers, like the $3 million koala hospital funding announced that was announced back in May, but which has only very recently started getting out the door, and even then in small batches spread over four years.

Last week Labor Leader Anthony Albanese and I launched a constructive call to action for the Government to address the bushfire ecological crisis which is estimated to have killed around one billion animals and caused devastating habitat loss.

We called for a national ecological audit which would mobilise an army of scientists and on-the-ground land management specialists across state borders, in a national effort to tackle the environmental destruction we have seen.

Labor is pleased the Government has responded to this proposal by committing to a scientific mapping exercise to understand the fires’ impact. The government must now provide full details of how that will be undertaken. 

The Morrison Government should also take up Labor’s proposal to convene an urgent meeting of our nation’s environment ministers to begin coordinated national recovery planning now. 

In addition, the government should also accept Labor’s recommendation to fund the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre beyond 1 July 2021.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has been calling on Scott Morrison to adopt a national plan for bushfires since November last year.   Australia needs a comprehensive national plan to support the victims, our firefighters and our native national icons that have been shattered by the bushfires.

Unfortunately, everything this do-nothing government does on the bushfire crisis is too little, too late. Scott Morrison seems to have an answer for everything but a solution for nothing. Australians are paying the price.  

Australians see him offering excuses instead of taking action. They see blame instead of national leadership.

This loose-with-the-truth Prime Minister’s failure to listen and act sooner on bushfires is no surprise given his government is stacked full of climate change and science deniers, determined to distract attention from their abjectfailures.  

Just yesterday the Prime Minister attempted to blame his failure to act on constitutional issues and shifting public sentiment, despite previous Labor governments mobilising ADF resources, authorising payments to victims and firefighters promptly during previous natural disasters. 

He falsely claimed that reservists had never been mobilised during bushfires before.

This is a national emergency. Australia needs national leadership and a national plan.