The Greens have pledged to establish a specialist firefighting unit within the Australian Defence Force and bolster Australia’s aerial firefighting fleet.
Greens Emergency Management spokesperson Nick McKim said the recent fires in Tasmania’s wilderness had shown the increasing fire risk that Australia faces from a warming climate.
“The science is clear - global warming means hotter, drier summers, with more dry lightning strikes, and therefore more bushfires,” Senator McKim said.
“We need to do all we can to support our firefighters, particularly to respond to remote and wilderness fires in as safe a way as possible.”
“It’s time we broadened the mandate of the ADF so that it has improved capacity to assist our communities address domestic challenges like firefighting and responding to sea level rise.”
“That’s why the Greens are proposing to train professional Army personnel in extreme and remote area bushfire fighting, as the New Zealand Defence Force currently does.
Greens Defence spokesperson Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the party would also have the Royal Australian Air Force purchase and operate three amphibious waterbombers to add greater capacity to Australia’s aerial fleet.
“These are the kinds of practical steps that Australia needs to be taking to help better prepare and respond to natural disasters,” Senator Whish-Wilson said.
“The policy would require the ADF to invest $150 million on three water bombers at $50 million each, and up to a further $50 million over four years into operational support and training, from its existing budget, making a total commitment of $200 million over the forward estimates.”
“This would be boosted by the Greens’ previously announced policy of doubling the number of civilian firefighters by 2030.”