Showing posts with label lies and lying. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lies and lying. Show all posts

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Quotes of the Week


"Most politicians lie whenever they are uncomfortable or caught in a tight spot. Few lie with the ease and casualness of Morrison." [Journalist Dennis Atkins writing in The New Daily, 16 May 2020]

"USA started out by electing a reality tv show host to run it and now we are all on Survivor." [G. Dixon, Twitter, 19 May 2020] 

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Morrison Government's new virus contact tracing app


On the evening of Sunday 26 April 2020 the Morrison Coalition Government released its COVID-19 contact tracing app "COVIDSafe" for download and installation on mobile phones by the Australia public.

The stated intention for the release of this app is to widely surveil the Australian population with the aim of tracing persons who have been in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This release did not come after the promised full disclosure of the app source code. Indeed this source code if or when it is finally released will be a redacted version.

It did not come backed by a full legislative framework which had been scrutinised by the Australian Parliament. 

It came with a ministerial determination which had been published at one minute before midnight on Saturday 25 April 2020 and a one page website containing two download links, a link to "Privacy policy" and another to "Help topics".

It also came after the unannounced release of the promised Privacy Impact Assessment sometime on 25 April 2020.

Despite being assured that no federal agency can access data collected by COVIDSafe, one federal agency the Digital Transformation Agency has official permission to access data in certain situations.

To effectively use the app on a mobile phone Bluetooth has to be activated and some phones will be required to run the app in the foreground, others may find it can be run in the background. Recharging may have to happen more often and some existing phone functions may not always perform well.

Every mobile phone user with this app "will receive daily notifications to ensure the COVIDSafe app is running".

Once installed the app can be automatically updated (including with additional app functions) without notification to the user, unless automatic updates have been blocked on Google Play or Apple App Store.

It is up to each citizen and permanent resident to make their own decision concerning the downloading of this app as use of the app is voluntary.

UPDATE

Despite the Morrison Government insisting that "the COVIDSafe app does not collect your location", according to Google Play this app has GPS and network based functions so a mobile phone's precise location can be identified.





Saturday, 18 April 2020

Tweet of the Week



Thursday, 5 March 2020

Houston we have a problem - our prime minister is a compulsive political liar


THEN.....

"Journalist: It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that an invitation was sought to the White House for Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston who’s a friend of yours and that was not backed? Can you tell us what happened there?
PM: I don’t comment on gossip.
J: So it’s not true?
J: Did you actually put a request in for him to…
PM: I don’t comment on gossip or stories about other stories.
J: Does that mean it’s not true though?
PM: It means it’s gossip.
J: But it…
PM: It means it’s gossip.
J: But not true?
PM: I’ve answered the question.
J: True or not true?" [Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refusing to admit he had requested that the White House invite his 'mentor' & paedophile protector, Brian Houston, to an official dinner, The Guardian, 24 November 2019
NOW.....

ABC TV "7.30", 4 March 2020:

LEIGH SALES: You won't release the Gaetjens report into the sports rorts. Your office tried to conceal when you were on holidays in Hawaii in December.
The Government cited national security to avoid answering a question under FOI about whether Pastor Brian Houston was invited to a White House dinner although you have finally admitted this afternoon that he was invited.
Why all the secrecy on stuff that, on the surface, would seem to be not that big a deal?
SCOTT MORRISON: Those things aren't that big a deal that you have talked about, Leigh.
LEIGH SALES: But why the secrecy then?
SCOTT MORRISON: Leigh, I am just focused on the things that I took to the Australian people.
LEIGH SALES: I just want to know why the secrecy. You are not answering what I am asking.
SCOTT MORRISON: Leigh, well, I have disclosed the issues that you have referred to.
So, I mean, in relation to one of those matters I mean, I could have been more candid at the time about it. I wish I was but frankly it wasn't a big deal.
LEIGH SALES: But go back to the trust question. You want Australians to trust you. Does this excessive secrecy help that?
SCOTT MORRISON: I don't accept the assertion you are putting to me, Leigh. I mean you are making accusations.......
LEIGH SALES: Well, what about the Brian Houston thing. Why did you keep that a secret?
SCOTT MORRISON: Well, Leigh, at the time I was in the United States. We had had a very important meeting with the President of the United States. It was not a matter I was intending to be distracted by.
And look, at the time, I could have answered the question differently. I have been up front about that but honestly, at the end of the day, it was not a significant matter and people haven't asked me about it for months and months and months.
A journalist asked me about it today and I just answered it straight up.
LEIGH SALES: But the only reason I am asking about it, because it is a minor matter, is because of the secrecy around it.
I mean, there was an FOI request put in about it that came back and said that the information couldn't be disclosed because it would jeopardise Australia's relationship with the United States.....

The Australian, 4 March 2020:

Houston, we have a problem
This wasn’t a major issue when it was first raised. So why did it take PM so long to come clean on White House invitation for Hillsong’s Brian Houston? 

The Daily Telegraph4 March 2020, p.1O:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed he lobbied for Hillsong founder Brian Houston to be invited to a White House dinner as part of his state visit last year.
Mr Morrison previously dismissed the claim as gossip but yesterday revealed to 2GB’s Ben Fordham he requested the White House include him on the guest list.
“We put forward a number of names, that included Brian. But, not everybody whose name was put forward was invited,” Mr Morrison said.

Seems that like lying about whether he was in Hawaii on holiday or in Australia while mega bushfires raged, Scott Morrison is also sensitive about his continuing association with a man reportedly under investigation by the NSW Police in relation to his alleged coverup of child abuse perpetrated by his father.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

This is how the world sees Australia and Australians in January 2020


A British perspective.....

"..the boys from the Morrison campaign were the Neville Chamberlains of Australian politics who had convinced Australians to ignore the greatest threat to their nation’s security" [TheObserver columnist Nick Cohen writing in The Guardian, 5 January 2020]

The Guardian, 5 January 2020:

There are worse leaders than Scott Morrison. The “international community” includes torturers, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers 

and kleptomaniacs beside whom he seems almost benign. But no 
leader in the world is more abject than the prime minister of Australia.

He cuts a pathetic figure. A leader must speak honestly to his people in a crisis.The sly tactics of climate change denial, the false consoling words that it’s a scare and we can carry on as before, have left Morrison’s words as meaningless as a hum in the background. Nothing he says is worth hearing.

Australian English is rich in its descriptions of worthless men: as useful as tits on a bull, a dry thunderstorm, a third armpit, a glass door on a dunny, a pocket on a singlet, an ashtray on a motorbike, a submarine with screen doors, a roo-bar on a skateboard. Morrison is all of the above, but a British saying sums him up: “too clever by half”. Morrison won last year’s Australian general election, although his conservative Liberal party was expected to lose, by slyly mobilising opinion against tax rises in general and environmental taxes in particular.

The climate change denialism he espoused is a moving target. In the 1990s, lobbyists funded by the oil industry acted as if the overwhelming majority of scientists who understood the subject were in a conspiracy against the public. They accused the authors of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports of being guilty of a “major deception” when they discussed the human influence on climate. Many still hold to the original sin of this denialism.

Even as Australia burned last week, Tony Abbott, Morrison’s conservative predecessor, was still saying the world was “in the grip of a climate cult”. Abbott proved he was willing to make others suffer for his wilfully ignorant belief by scrapping a carbon tax when he was in power in Australia in 2014. A fallback position is emerging. It accepts that manmade climate change is real but withdraws the concession as soon as it has been made and loses it in an obfuscatory smoke.

The final fallback and the final degradation will come, I predict, in the mid-2020s when the right abandons denialism completely, admits that climate change is catastrophic, but adds it’s far too late to do anything about it, which it may well be.


Scott Morrison is hunkered down in stage two. He grudgingly acknowledges the existence of man-made climate change but hurriedly adds that other causes are at work. The climate has always changed and it’s not worth bearing the costs of challenging a polluting culture. It worked in last year’s elections, but sounds absurd today.

“By not recognising climate change as a serious threat you fail to prepare overworked, underappreciated first responders for larger, more frequent bushfires that devastate communities,” said one previously solid Morrison voter, after he had learned the truth about conservatism as his family waited to be evacuated from a New South Wales beach.

Despite its failure, perhaps because of its failures, the do-nothing Australian right remains admired across the conservative world. The 2019 election was meant to be a climate change election about the killing of the Great Barrier Reef, the extreme drought and average summer temperatures across the continent hitting 40C. Yet Morrison and his campaign team managed to turn it into an election about the Australian Labor party’s tax plans.

So impressed was Boris Johnson that he hired Morrison’s boys to win the British general election. Fawning coverage followed of the digital “whiz-kids” from New Zealand: Sean Topham, 28, and Ben Guerin, 24. In Australia, the hotshots refined their technique of dumping hundreds of crude variations on the same theme on social media. They described how Labor would raise taxes and warned that a proposal to encourage electric cars threatened motorists. Labor wanted to hit “Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel drives”, said Morrison, as his propagandists targeted ads at owners of Ford Rangers, Toyota Hilux and every other popular model, saying that Labor would increase the price of “Australia’s most popular cars”. In Britain, the same team banged home the crude message in a thousand different ways that Johnson would “get Brexit done”.

Politicians and political journalists who eulogise the cunning of clever operators aren’t being wholly asinine. How a party wins a campaign remains a matter of importance. But not one of them added, after the praise for the wise guys and whiz-kids had ended, that the boys from the Morrison campaign were the Neville Chamberlains of Australian politics who had convinced Australians to ignore the greatest threat to their nation’s security. It’s as if crime writers spent their time detailing the cunning of criminals while never mentioning the victims left bleeding on the floor.......

Read the full article here.

An American perspective.....

"Perhaps more than any other wealthy nation on Earth, Australia is at risk from the dangers of climate change. It has spent most of the 21st century in a historic drought. Its tropical oceans are more endangered than any other biome by climate change. Its people are clustered along the temperate and tropical coasts, where rising seas threaten major cities. Those same bands of livable land are the places either now burning or at heightened risk of bushfire in the future." [Journalist Robinson Meyer writing in The Atlantic, 4 January 2020]

The Atlantic, 4 January 2020:

Australia is caught in a climate spiral. For the past few decades, the arid and affluent country of 25 million has padded out its economy—otherwise dominated by sandy beaches and a bustling service sector—by selling coal to the world. As the East Asian economies have grown, Australia has been all too happy to keep their lights on. Exporting food, fiber, and minerals to Asia has helped Australia achieve three decades of nearly relentless growth: Oz has not had a technical recession, defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction, since July 1991.

But now Australia is buckling under the conditions that its fossil fuels have helped bring about. Perhaps the two biggest kinds of climate calamity happening today have begun to afflict the continent.

The first kind of disaster is, of course, the wildfire crisis. In the past three months, bushfires in Australia’s southeast have burned millions of acres, poisoned the air in Sydney and Melbourne, and forced 4,000 tourists and residents in a small beach town, Mallacoota, to congregate on the beach and get evacuated by the navy. A salvo of fires seems to have caught the world’s attention in recent years. But the current Australian season has outdone them all: Over the past six months, Australian fires have burned more than twice the area than was consumed, combined, by California’s 2018 fires and the Amazon’s 2019 fires.

The second is the irreversible scouring of the Earth’s most distinctive ecosystems. In Australia, this phenomenon has come for the country’s natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef. From 2016 to 2018, half of all coral in the reef died, killed by oceanic heat waves that bleached and then essentially starved the symbiotic animals. Because tropical coral reefs take about a decade to recover from such a die-off, and because the relentless pace of climate change means that more heat waves are virtually guaranteed in the 2020s, the reef’s only hope of long-term survival is for humans to virtually halt global warming in the next several decades and then begin to reverse it.

Meeting such a goal will require a revolution in the global energy system—and, above all, a rapid abandonment of coal burning. But there’s the rub. Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal power, and it has avoided recession for the past 27 years in part by selling coal.

Though polls report that most Australians are concerned about climate change, the country’s government has so far been unable to pass pretty much any climate policy. Infact, one of its recent political crises—the ousting of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the summer of 2018—was prompted by Turnbull’s attempt to pass an energy bill that included climate policy. Its current prime minister, Scott Morrison, actually brought a lump of coal to the floor of Parliament several years ago while defending the industry. He won an election last year by depicting climate change as the exclusive concern of educated city-dwellers, and climate policy as a threat to Australians’ cars and trucks. He has so far attempted to portray the wildfires as a crisis, sure, but one in line with previous natural disasters.....

Read the full article here.


Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Just in time for Christmas the Morrison Government's risible greenhouse gas emission projections up to 2030 have been released


Well the federal parliament closed its doors for the year in early December so there is going to be no questioning of the Morrison Government on the floor of the House of Representatives until 4 February 2020.

It follows that it was time to release some of the government untruths packaged between paper covers or boxed in a PDF - just in time for Christmas.

On the first Tuesday of December the Morrison Government released
Australia’s emissions projections 2019, accompanied by a misleading fanfare from the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction & Liberal MP for Hume, Angus Taylor.

In part this emissions fairytale tells us that:

Australia’s 2030 target (26–28 per cent below 2005 levels) 

• Emissions in 2030 are projected to be 511 Mt CO2 -e, 52 Mt CO2 -e lower than the 2018 estimate for 2030 of 563 Mt CO2 -e. 

• To achieve Australia’s 2030 target of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels, emissions reductions of 395 to 462 Mt CO2 -e between 2021 and 2030 are required. When overachievement of 411 Mt CO2 -e from previous targets is included, Australia will overachieve by 16 Mt CO2 -e (26 per cent reduction) and will require 51 Mt CO2 -e of cumulative emissions reduction between 2021 and 2030 to meet the 28 per cent reduction target. 

• Compared to the 2018 projections, the downward revision in the 2019 projections reflects: 

– the inclusion of the Climate Solutions Fund which will reduce emissions by 103 Mt CO2 -e, particularly in the Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector;

 – the inclusion of other measures in the Climate Solutions Package including energy efficiency measures in the electricity and direct combustion sectors; 

– stronger renewables deployment – due to increased uptake of small and mid-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) projected by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), and the inclusion of 50 per cent renewable energy targets in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory; and 

– updated forecasts of electricity demand.


Sounds good until you look at the numbers.

In the original Kyoto Agreement Australia's baseline for accounting greenhouse gas emissions was 1990 and total national greenhouse gas emissions for that year were recorded as 610MT CO2-e.

Australia came away unhappy with the conference outcome, so bitched and griped at every turn until the baseline was moved, eventually being extended out to 2005.

In 2005 Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions were 611MT CO2-e if land use is included. The total changes to 522MT CO2-e if land use is excluded. 

The predictions for 2030 in the recent emissions projections are 511MT CO2-e land use included and 521MT CO2-e land use excluded.

There is a 100 point drop in the 2030 projection including land use and a 1 point drop with land use excluded.

It's  still a reduction right? Even if the Morrison Government got there by using an accounting trick?

Well no. Because - even with the carryover 'carbon credits' accounting trick which allows the the Morrison Government to subtract a total of 411MT CO-e from greenhouse gas emissions across selected annual totals - Australia is not meeting the undertakings made to the international community at the U.N. 2015 Paris climate change conference (COP 21).

In fact we have spent the six years between 2013 (when emissions total was 530
MT CO2-e) and 2019 (when emissions total was 532MT CO2-e) just treading water, while the days and nights became hotter, our rivers ran dry and our forests burned. 

Next year emissions are expected to rise again to what they were in 2014, 534MT CO2-e.

In Paris Australia agreed to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

That would mean that Australia's emissions target in 2030 should be somewhere between 440MT CO2-e and 450MT CO2-e.

There is a shortfall in meeting those targets.

With land use included the target shortfall in projections is between est. 59MT CO2-e and 71MT CO2-e. With land use excluded the shortfall is between est. 69MT CO2-e and 81MT CO2-e.

That is a lot of mega tonnes. Especially if we were to correct the Morrison Govenment's creative accounting and remove this carryover credits from the equation.

Then the 2030 emissions reduction target shortfall would probably grow by arround est. 80-84 per cent.


Angus Taylor attended the 2-13 December 2019 UN Madrid Climate Change Conference (COP25) armed with his copy of that creative government accounting - probably believing that representatives of other nations would find his spiel believable. Though I rather suspect whenever he was at the other end of the room a number would have had their heads together quietly laughing at him. 

Notes:

Emissions are recorded as totalling 532MT CO2-e In 2018 and 2019. However using Morrison & Co's accounting trick it is reduced to a total of 328MT CO2-e in 2018 and -6MT CO2-e in 2019. See http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/4aa038fc-b9ee-4694-99d0-c5346afb5bfb/files/aust-emissions-projects-chart-data-2019.xlsx.

All data the Australia's emissions projections 2019 relies on can be found at -
http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/publications/emissions-projections-2019.

If readers want emissions totals & projections per year from 1990 to 2030 in a more digestible form, there is currently an interactive graph at -
https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2019/dec/10/the-coalition-isnt-being-honest-about-the-climate-crisis-but-neither-is-labor.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

NSW Police investigating Australian Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction & Liberal MP for Hume Angus Talyor's use of an apparently fraudulent document


SBS News, 26 November 2019:

NSW POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A FRAUDULENT DOCUMENT USED BY ANGUS TAYLOR'S OFFICE TO CRITICISE CLOVER MOORE


NSW Police has opened an investigation into an apparently fraudulent document used by federal energy minister Angus Taylor to attack Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore over her council's travel expenditure.
A spokesperson for the Lord Mayor confirmed that "the Office of the Lord Mayor has been contacted by NSW Police regarding its investigation into falsified City documents used to inform Minister Taylor's correspondence with the Lord Mayor. The City will fully cooperate with the police investigation."
NSW Police confirmed that an investigation is underway, telling SBS that "the NSW Police Force is in the early stages of investigating information into the reported creation of fraudulent documentation."
"Detectives from the State Crime Command's Financial Crimes Squad have launched Strike Force Garrad to investigate the matters and determine if any criminal offences have been committed. As investigations are ongoing, no further information is available."
Controversy over the document in question began in September when the Daily Telegraph reported that the City of Sydney Council spent more on domestic and international flights than Australia's foreign ministers.
The story quoted from a letter sent by Mr Taylor to Clover Moore, which claimed that the City of Sydney's 2017-18 annual report "shows your council spent $1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel".
These figures differed significantly from the council's publicly available annual report, which reported spending of $4,206.32 on domestic travel and $1,727.77 on international travel.
In emails to Ms Moore's office obtained by The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph said the figures in its story were drawn from a copy of the City of Sydney's annual report provided to the newspaper by Mr Taylor's office.
In Parliament, Mr Taylor has repeatedly claimed that the document in question was "drawn directly from the City of Sydney's website" and was "publicly available".
Mr Taylor has since refused to answer questions about the document......

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Australian Politics 2019: bushfire blame shifting is a tedious business which is intended to distract the electorate from considering the impacts of climate change


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Australia's climate has warmed just over 1 °C since 1910 leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events….There has been a decline of around 11 per cent in April–October rainfall in the southeast of Australia since the late 1990s….There has been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season, across large parts of Australia….The year-to-year changes in Australia’s climate are mostly associated with natural climate variability such as El Niño and La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean and phases of the Indian Ocean Dipole in the Indian Ocean. This natural variability now occurs on top of the warming trend, which can modify the impact of these natural drivers on the Australian climate.”  [Australian Bureau of Meteorology, State of the Climate 2018]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


On the morning of 13 November 2017 New South Wales awoke to a state still under siege from climate change and drought induced bushfires.

The NSW Rural Fire Service reported 79 fires at 4.13am, with 4 at Emergency Warning level (out of control), 12 at Watch And Act level and 50 at Advice level.

The largest Emergency fire was in the Clarence Valley local government area (148,120 hectares), largest Watch And Act fire in Kempsey local government area (223,047 hectares) and largest Advice fire in Armidale local government area (113,900 hectares).

Thankfully, changing weather conditions over the day saw the Emergency Warnings reduced to Watch And Act and the number of serious fires reduced to 69 sites

What the general public also awoke to that morning was a continuing attempt to blame shift on the part of federal and state Liberal and Nationals politicians.

They quickly focused on NSW hazard reduction rules – conveniently forgetting that it was Liberal-Nationals Coalition state governments which last amended the relevant legislation.

They blamed the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian Greens political party, - shockingly in one instance it was even implied that victims of these fires were themselves to blame because they likely voted for the Greens.

In this they have been aided and abetted by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp metropolitan and regional newspaper empire as well as members of that climate change denying lobby group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

What these rightwing politicians refuse to publicly admit is that in Australia climate change is intensifying heat, reducing rainfall, increasing water evaporation rates, raising the severity levels of drought, lengthening fire seasons and causing bushfires to morph into mega fires.

Nor would these politicians admit that since 2013 the national response to climate change has become insufficient for the scale of problems now facing the country.

Here is how media is presenting this issue. Leading the pack is a News Corp journalist who happens to also be an enthusiastic climate change denier…...

The Daily Telegraph, 13 November 2019, p.13:

For eighty years, inquiries have found reducing hazards is the best, most immediate way to prevent bush fires, but green policies have led us to learned helplessness
Even a hippie in Nimbin knows that greenies are to blame for the power and ­intensity of NSW’s latest bout of tragic bushfires.
“The Greens have to cop it on the head — they have been obsessed with no fires and no burning,” Michael Balderstone told the Australian as bushfires engulfed the north coast.
Wiser words have never been spoken in that Northern Rivers town. Yet Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt still insist that the culprit is climate change.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. They oppose any sensible land ­management that is proven to ­reduce the severity of routine ­regular summer bushfires.
And when the inevitable happens they blame climate change.
Their aim is to scare people into buying their climate “emergency” hyperbole so that government is under pressure to enact suicidal policies which drive electricity prices through the roof.
But it is not climate change which turns fires into unstoppable lethal infernos. It is green ideology which blocks removal of fuel loads in national parks and prevents landholders from clearing fire hazards around their homes.

The Guardian, 13 November 2019:

Bureaucrats from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment were sent an email soon after the AdaptNSW 2019 Forum began, causing consternation among some attendees who saw it as tantamount to gagging them.

The email said: “For those attending AdaptNSW today, public affairs has issued advice not to discuss the link between climate change and bushfires.

Refer questions in session and plenaries to bushfire reps.”

What are the links between climate change and bushfires? – explainer
Read more
Former NSW fire commissioner Greg Mullins was one of the attendees.

But the participants also included scientists and experts who are developing policy and advising the Berejiklian government on adaption measures the state could take in relation to land use, planning and dealing with the risk of bushfires.

SBS News, 12 November 2019:

What does the science say?

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that Australia's fire season is growing longer and more intense due to the effects of climate change.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) stated in a report last year that Australia's climate has warmed just over 1°C since 1910.


The report said climate change has seen an increase in extreme heat events and increased the severity of natural disasters, such as drought.

"There has been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather and in the length of the fire season across large parts of Australia since the 1950s ... Climate change, including increasing temperatures, is contributing to these changes," it said.

Some in the federal government have attributed the increased risk on newly-imposed restrictions on hazard reduction burning - low-intensity burns to remove vegetation so bush or grass fires are less intense.

It is different to backburning, which specifically refers to the starting of small, controlled fires in the path of a bushfire to reduce the amount of fuel available……

Are hazard reduction restrictions to blame?

Some in the federal government have attributed the increased risk on newly-imposed restrictions on hazard reduction burning - low-intensity burns to remove vegetation so bush or grass fires are less intense.

It is different to backburning, which specifically refers to the starting of small, controlled fires in the path of a bushfire to reduce the amount of fuel available.

But David Bowman, director of the Fire Centre Research Hub at the University of Tasmania, said restrictions on hazard reductions are not entirely to blame.

"At the very core, we have a climate signal. There's extreme drought, extreme fire weather conditions - fire weather that you would expect in summer, not in spring,” he told the ABC on Monday.

"Yes, there is a role for managing fuels with hazard reduction burning - but would hazard reduction burning programs on their own stem this fire crisis? No, absolutely not."

What can we expect now?

The BOM said 2017 and 2018 were Australia's third and fourth-hottest years on record.

In April, a group 23 former fire chiefs warned climate change is worsening extreme weather and putting people in danger.

In September, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) released its annual seasonal bushfire outlook, describing the east coast of Australia as having "above normal fire potential".

"What all the evidence is showing us (is) that the temperature is sitting about one degree above long-term averages. That is leading to a much earlier start fire season around the world. That is internationally noted,” BNHCRC CEO Richard Thornton said.

"We are also seeing the cumulative amount of fire danger during a fire season going up - the time between these really extreme fire years will get shorter and shorter and shorter.

"We will see these conditions come around more frequently."
The Guardian, 12 November 2019:
So what are the claims?
The chief accuser is Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce who says “greens policy” gets in the way “of many of the practicalities of fighting a fire and managing it”.
Among Joyce’s claims, made in several interviews this week, are that Greens policies have made hazard reduction activities more difficult.
This claim, just to be clear, is about the policies of a party that has never been in government.
Joyce also blamed the Greens for “paperwork” that made it harder to carry out hazard reduction activities….
It’s not burning because they burnt off, it’s burning because they didn’t burn off,” Joyce told SkyNews.
According to Bradstock, Joyce’s claims are familiar but “without foundation.”
It’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change.”
A former NSW fire and rescue commissioner, Greg Mullins, has written this week that the hotter and drier conditions, and the higher fire danger ratings, were preventing agencies from carrying out prescribed burning.
He said: “Blaming ‘greenies’ for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but basically untrue claim.”
The Australian, 12 November 2019:

A fierce feud has ignited between NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and the National Parks and Wildlife Service following revelations the number of rangers, who perform hazard reduction burns, has been cut by a third since the Coalition came to power in 2011.

The Public Service Association has accused Mr Barilaro of gross hypocrisy after the Deputy Premier blamed the department for contributing to the state’s catastrophic fire conditions by failing to carry out extensive hazard reduction in the lead-up to bushfire season, labelling his comments “worse than an insult”.

Apart from last financial year, the NPWS has not met its annual hazard reduction target of 135,000ha since 2016.

PSA industrial manager Nathan Bradshaw blamed the failure to meet targets on severe cuts to staffing levels, saying that since 2011, the department’s 289 rangers, including 28 senior rangers, had been trimmed to 193.

Following a restructure in 2017, the NPWS’s number of area managers was cut from 50 to 37, he said.

Mr Bradshaw said the Office of Environment and Heritage’s budget had been further depleted by $80m this year, and the NPWS was absorbing part of the cut.

He said the cutbacks had directly affected the department’s ability to operate efficiently.

In 2012-13, the NPWS was involved in 208,000ha of hazard reduction; in 2016-17, that was just 88,136ha, and just 95,589ha in 2017-18. However, the government said the amount of hazard reduction had increased in 2018-19, with “NPWS undertaking 137,500ha of prescribed burns, which is above its target of 135,000ha”.

Crikey, 12 November 2019:

A new report has found Australia’s response to climate change is among the worst in the G20noting a lack of policy, reliance on fossil fuels and rising emissions, The Guardian reports.
As politicians argue over whether the “unprecedented” bushfires ravaging NSW are linked to climate change — or whether it’s appropriate to bring it up at all — the latest Brown to Green Report ranked Australia third-worst in terms of progress toward meeting its Paris goals. The report states Australia is not even on track to meet its “insufficient” 2030 targets, and highlights a poor response on deforestation, transport, energy supply and carbon pricing. The international report was compiled by 14 NGOs, thinktanks and research institutes.
A STATE OF EMERGENCY
About 600 schools will be closed across NSW today, with a week-long state of emergency declared, as the east coast braces for an unprecedented and “catastrophic” fire risk, the ABC reports.
More than 60 bushfires continue to burn across the state, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting “hot, dry and gusty winds” that “will generate very dangerous fire conditions”. The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning that firefighters will not be able to help everybody if a fire takes hold, releasing a statement declaring “if you call for help, you may not get it”. NSW RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers says the situation is worse than he could have imagined, telling reporters: “If someone came to me and said ‘let’s do one of the scenario role-plays’, I would be saying, ‘let’s try to keep this a bit more realistic’”.
BACKGROUND

NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS), Hazard Reduction Standards:

Fire Trail Standards.pdf (PDF, 5.6 MB)



Terms used by NSWRFS:


Emergency Warning: An Emergency Warning is the highest level of Bush Fire Alert. You may be in danger and need to take action immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.

Watch and Act: There is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family.

Advice: A fire has started. There is no immediate danger. Stay up to date in case the situation changes.