Letter From Australia (About Pants on Fire)

Lying Like a Flatfish

Australia is particularly prone to bush fires.  One of the best methods of combating them is to “de-fuel” the fires before they light through a systemic campaign of controlled burn-offs.  The biggest opponents to this sane practice have been the Greens and their fellow travellers on the Left.  They have consistently and systematically opposed controlled de-fuelling burnoffs (usually in the winter months) for a variety of spurious reasons. 

Now, however, to add insult to injury, and in demonstration of how much the Greens despise truth and the electorate, they are claiming that they have never opposed such de-fuelling burnoffs.  This, of course, is in the face of criticism the Greens are now confronting as a result of the recent devastating bush fires in New South Wales and Tasmania. 

Miranda Devine has long researched and written on these matters.  Once again she exposes the duplicitous mindset of the Greens in Australia.
 

Pants on fire

Miranda Devine  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 (9:53am)

THE Greens love to rewrite history. They must think we have amnesia.

Here is Tasmanian Greens leader and cabinet minister Nick McKim claiming last weekend:
“The Greens, in all the history of our political party, have never opposed a fuel-reduction burn, ever.”  Here is his party in a post on their website this week: “The Greens have supported, and continue to support, fuel reduction burns as a vital tool in protecting lives and property in all land tenures including National Parks.”
And here is the Tasmanian Greens press release of June 15, 2012:

The Tasmanian Greens today said that residents in and around Maydena deserved better than the intense smoke pollution from commercial forestry burn-offs that they were subjected to this week.
This practice has simply got to stop. It puts people’s health at risk and every time the state is swathed in commercial forestry smoke, our valuable ‘clean, green,’ brand is diluted just a little bit more.
“Greens strongly believe Tasmania must free itself from this smoke taint and end commercial forestry burn-offs . . . attempting to burn forest waste at this time of year is highly likely to have this unacceptable result.
“We’re all better off when this Neanderthal practice stops and disposing of forest by-products is done far more responsibly.
“The future’s bright without forestry’s smoke pollution,” said Greens Treasury spokesperson, Tim Morris MP.

And what about this, from the Tasmanian Greens’ health spokesperson, Paul ‘Basil’ O’Halloran MP on March 15, 2011: “FORESTRY BURN-OFFS CONTINUE TO THREATEN HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: COMMUNITIES, ANIMALS AND PLANT LIFE BEING THREATENED BY FORESTRY BURN-OFFS.”

It is a matter of public record that green groups have long opposed systematic prescribed burning, as is evident in their submissions to bushfire inquiries from as far back as 1992.  They complain of a threat to biodiversity, including to fungi, from “frequent burning” regimes and urge resources be spent on water bombers and early detection, as well as on stopping climate change – good luck with that.

The WA Forest Alliance, for instance, lodged a submission to the NSW parliamentary inquiry into the 2001-02 bushfires, claiming: “Frequent fires have a disastrous effect on many species of flora and fauna and their habitat structure.”

WWF Australia’s submission claimed: “Inappropriate fire hazard regimes can damage biodiversity leading to the loss of native species, communities and ecosystems.”

The NSW Greens stated on their website in 2002 as part of their bushfire risk management policy: “There is an urgent need to correct the common misconception that responsible fire management always involves burning or clearing to reduce moderate and high fuel loads…”

As I wrote in a previous column, in 2003, lightning strikes in fuel-rich national parks in NSW and the ACT sparked bushfires which swept into Canberra, killing four people.  Days later, the NSW Nature Conservation Council’s then chairman, Rob Pallin, described calls for increased prescribed burning as “futile” and a “knee-jerk reaction”.  “People who claim that hazard reduction burning is a cure-all for bushfire risk are either fooling themselves or deliberately trying to fool the public.”

It is another clever tactic of those who oppose broadscale prescribed burning to claim that it is not a “cure-all” for bushfire risk. No one has ever claimed it is. The icing on the cake is that the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage has list controlled burning, or what it called “too frequent fire” as a “key threatening process to biodiversity” under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
 
UPDATE:
Six years before the deadly Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009, David Packham tried to warn Nillumbik Shire, where so many people were to die, about the “very dangerous fuel loads”.  Nillumbik Shire council was committed to reducing carbon emissions in its so-called “green wedge” area, where restrictions on removing vegetation around houses reportedly added to the dangers.

As I wrote in 2009:
In St Andrews, where more than 20 people are believed to have died, surviving residents have spoken angrily of “greenies” who prevented them from cutting back trees near their property, including in one case, a tea tree that went “whoomp”. Dr Phil Cheney, the former head of the CSIRO’s bushfire research unit and one of the pioneers of prescribed burning, said yesterday if the fire-ravaged Victorian areas had been hazard-reduced, the flames would not have been as intense.

Kinglake and Maryville, now crime scenes, are built among tall forests of messmate stringy bark trees which pose a special fire hazard, with peeling bark creating firebrands that carry fire five kilometres out. “The only way to reduce the flammability of the bark is by prescribed burning” every five to seven years, Cheney said. He estimates between 35 and 50 tonnes a hectare of dry fuel were waiting to be gobbled up by Saturday’s inferno.

Fuel loads above about eight tonnes a hectare are considered a fire hazard. A federal parliamentary inquiry into bushfires in 2003 heard that a fourfold increase in ground fuel leads to a 13-fold increase in the heat generated by a fire.
 
UPDATE:
Remember the Sheahans, fined $50,000 for clearing a firebreak around their house… which became one of the few in the area to survive Black Saturday’s inferno.

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