WORLD In line of wildfire: Australian PM wants inquiry into crisis response

WORLD

In line of wildfire: Australian PM wants inquiry into crisis response

CGTN

16:15, January 12, 2020

After weeks of criticism over the handling of the bushfires scorching Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday he will propose a national review into the response to the disaster, as the fires claimed another firefighter's life.

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Photo: CGTN

Since in September, the months-long bushfires have killed at least 28 people, claimed 2,000 houses and raged across millions of acres of land and wildlife.

Morrison said he would propose a powerful judicial inquiry, known as the Royal Commission, into the handling of the fires.

Except the promised inquiry and sincere regret for his holiday, it's really not too late for the prime minister to concede that there were things he could have handled much better, since the ongoing fires are estimated to continue for months.

With a forest area covering 20 percent of its total land area, Australia is not a stranger to wildfires. However, the wildfires have been ravaging the oceanic country for around four months. 

In face of a consecutive three-year drought from 2016 to 2018, Australian people did not see what their government has prepared for possible wildfires while trying to put out the fires, instead they saw the prime minister spending holidays in Hawaii. It's no doubt why Morrison was heckled by locals while visiting the disaster area and why the government was blamed for a slow response to the disaster.

It's reported that the national air fire control center has applied for an addition of 11 million Australian dollars annually to hire large-scale fire airplanes, however the application hasn't received an approval yet. Besides, the center has seen the government funding cut to half of that in 2003. Therefore, some local firefighters have to buy basic fire-fighting equipment through crowdfunding.

The conservative government led by Morrison has been accused of not doing enough to address climate change, however, the prime minister did not think there are direct links between global warming and worsening bushfires in his country.

However, local media reported that it's wrong for the government to avoid talking about climate change. Experts said that the energy industries including coal, petroleum and gasoline play important roles in Australia's economy. This is why the Australian government refuses to cut the size of its coal industry.

Morrison said his government will look into improving its performance on curbing emissions in face of increasing pressures to do more to tackle climate change.

Besides strengthening its ability in tackling fires, the Australian government also needs to enhance its coverage on bushfires, so as to avoid false reports such as fake images and groundless arson suspects, which are circulated on media in recent days.

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