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Government Humanitarian Crisis

NSW premier delays climate talks, locals rally online crowd funding to rebuild town

3 min read

The NSW government is not shying away from talking about climate change but for now must focus on protecting life during the state’s bushfire emergency, Premier Gladys Berejiklian says.

The state’s leader said she is not sorry for prioritising “keeping people alive”, over discussing potential links between global warming and the unprecedented fires ravaging NSW.

Both Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have dodged questions on the issue in recent days.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack went further, labelling the behaviour of those linking the fires to climate change as “disgraceful” and “disgusting”.

Berejiklian, who said she believes in climate change, branded questions on the topic at the minute “disappointing”, but added that the discussion will be had sometime in the future.

“We just want everyone to focus on protecting life and property and of course we’ll have those discussions. We’ve never shied away from those,” she told ABC News on Monday night. “But when you face people who are protesting I often say to them ‘Well, why don’t you help out people who have just lost everything?’ Let’s have these discussions another day.”

She said the immediate priority is helping people in affected areas, adding: “I don’t apologise for expressing that sentiment”.

Glen Innes Severn Council mayor Carol Sparks – whose home was severely damaged in a bushfire that killed two people – said the prime minister’s response when asked about climate change at the weekend was “unbelievable”.

“It’s climate change, there’s no doubt about it. The whole of the country is going to be affected. We need to take a serious look at our future,” she told AAP.

She later told ABC: “It’s not a political thing – it’s a scientific fact.”

“Of course it’s not relevant at the moment when people’s houses are burning and you’ve lost lives and you’ve lost friends and you’ve lost family,” the mayor said.”But the overall thing is we are so dry in this country – we haven’t had rain for years in some places. We need to look at what we’re going to do about that in the future. To deny climate change is, to me, a very ill-informed and uneducated way of looking at things.”

Meanwhile, a woman whose family home was destroyed by bushfire says she’s disappointed by the deputy prime minister’s apparent attempts to play down any potential link between climate change and blazes in Queensland and NSW.

The home in which Cerene Lowe was born was among many razed in Wytaliba on Friday, when NSW endured an unprecedented number of emergency warning blazes.

“To disregard the issue of climate change in a situation like this is wrong,” Lowe told AAP late on Monday. “The droughts are getting longer, farms have stopped work.”

Three people have died and 150 homes been destroyed in NSW, a state now bracing for “catastrophic” conditions on Tuesday.

Lowe is now focused on rallying support to rebuild the town – east of Glen Innes – through a GoFundMe page and local Facebook groups.

GoFundMe reported $250,000 raised in the last 72 hours to support bushfire victims, communities and firefighters with over 215 campaigns created coming from every state and donors from over 30 countries.

The GoFundMe Trust and Safety team are monitoring developments closely and working around the clock to vet and verify all pages and ensure donations reach the intended place safely.

On the fires, Nicola Britton, Regional Manager, GoFundMe Australia says:  “The power of the Australian community has shone through in the past 72 hours, with over 210 GoFundMe pages raising more than quarter of a million dollars, and rapidly rising.”

She continues Australians are backing one another, acting quickly to take fundraising into their own hands. They’re backing their neighbours, their friends and families, our firefighters and the Australian wildlife who have become helpless victims of this natural disaster.

“Within hours of initial reports of the fires, we witnessed an enormous amount of donations flooding in help to those facing this unprecedented series of bushfires. As Tuesday’s fires take hold, and reports that over six million NSW residents are at risk, we anticipate that Australians will continue to chip in to support the victims through personal fundraising,” she said.

with AAP


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