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PM's conversion to climate change believer better late than never.

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Senator Christine Milne

PM's conversion to climate change believer better late than never

Senator Milne, 14th December 2006

The Australian Greens have welcomed Prime Minister Howard’s change of position on global warming and his reported concession* that Australia should prepare for more extreme weather events such as the bushfires currently raging across eastern Australia and Tasmania.

Greens’ climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said the Prime Minister’s belated admission will be welcome news to all those firefighters battling blazes in dangerous conditions for days and weeks at a time, and to rural communities worried about the predicted continuation of extreme drought in the summer and autumn of 2007.

“The Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO and the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre have all been warning since 2004 of the need for ‘long term strategic research, planning and investment’ if Australian governments, federal, state and territory are to prepare for changes to the frequency, intensity and size of bushfires that will be caused by climate change.

“Yet none of these warnings have penetrated the Prime Minister’s office to date.

“As recently as May this year, the Federal Budget provided tax cuts but ignored the critical investment needed to better prepare Australia for extreme, climate change induced weather events.

“Tragically, it seems that the prediction of increased temperatures, and reduced rainfall on the East Coast of Tasmania have come to pass. The Federal Government must now invest heavily in measures recommended for climate change adaptation.

“This longer term approach to climate change policy will be one of the best ways possible of supporting all those preparing for, and fighting, bushfires in Australia.

“The gaps in knowledge and research priorities have already been identified by some of the national leading research bodies; now they should be funded for our national interest in the future.

“The Prime Minister’s apparent change of mind should now translate into funding to build national capacity for dealing with climate change impacts, rather than granting tax cuts for a short term political agenda,” Senator Milne said.

(* The Age, p. 1. Thursday 14 December)

Contact: Cassy O’Connor 03 6234 4566 or 0437 587 562