As part of the Green New Deal to solve the climate crisis, Greens Leader Adam Bandt has called for the doubling of the number of paid firefighters across the country paid for by a levy on the coal, oil and gas industry.
Mr Bandt will make the announcement alongside a dozen active firefighters in Parliament House, who will join in calls for the government and opposition to back the plan.
Quotes attributable to Adam Bandt MP:
“The Greens are the firefighters of Australian politics. We are the only ones recognising it’s a climate emergency and acting like the house is one fire.
“Our emergency services need to be equipped to fight the climate emergency.
“The first job of a government is to keep Australians safe. To protect Australians from the climate crisis, our Green New Deal will plan for a phase out of coal, oil and gas and double our firefighting forces. We call on Liberal and Labor to back our call.
“Five of Australia’s top coal companies, Peabody, Yancoal, CITIC, Sumitomo and Whitehaven had earnings of $54 billion between them over the past five years, yet paid zero income tax in Australia.
“The burning of coal, oil and gas is fueling the climate crisis and putting Australian lives at risk. It’s time that fossil fuel companies start meeting the costs of tackling the climate emergency.
“Firefighters and experts such as the Climate Council have said that doubling the number of firefighters is necessary to fight these catastrophic fires.
“The people of Australia need more than thoughts and prayers. We need emergency action that matches the scale of the emergency we face.”
Quotes attributable to Rachel Cowling, Senior Station Officer:
“Firefighters know an emergency when they see one and this is a climate emergency. There are no skeptics at the end of a firehouse.”
The intensity and duration of the fires has exhausted our firefighters. Despite the incredible efforts of volunteers to manage the fires turbo-charged by coal and climate change, we need to double the number of paid firefighters to protect us from future megafires.
Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal and LNG. So by levying a $1 per tonne levy on the CO2 potential from all of Australia’s coal, oil and gas production driving the climate crisis, $1.53 billion a year can be raised from our overseas customers, to be spent on the Australian community.
This money raised each year from the coal, oil and gas industry will be directed to the twin tasks of rebuilding the devastated communities in the short term and as a Commonwealth contribution towards covering the costs of training and employing a doubling of our paid firefighters over the medium term.
On Wednesday Mr Bandt participated in an Emergency Services Summit in Parliament House, hearing directly from emergency services workers who have responded to the bushfire crisis.
Mr Bandt has a long history of working with firefighters. One of Adam’s first acts in Parliament was to introduce a private members bill extending protection for firefighters who contract cancer through their work, which passed into law with unanimous support, becoming one of only 7 private members bills to become law in the past two decades.