Bushfires, Hazard Reduction and Backburning

The Australian Greens support hazard reduction burns and backburning to reduce the impact of bushfires when guided by the best scientific, ecological and emergency service expertise.

Attempts by Liberal and National politicians to place the blame on the Greens represent the worst kind of dishonest politics. The Coalition has spent six years in office ignoring the main cause of these unprecedented bushfires – severe climate change.

Climate change has left forests and grasslands drier, which means the bushfire season has started earlier and will likely last longer. Higher temperatures and drier conditions have made the window for hazard reduction shorter.

The major cause of climate change that has led to these bushfires and extreme dry conditions around the country is the mining, burning and exporting of coal, oil and gas.

What the experts are saying: 

"Climate change is making fires and droughts worse, with the windows for standard hazard reduction measures during winter months becoming increasingly sparse."

– Greg Mullins, former NSW Fire & Rescue commissioner

Fact check - the Greens do support hazard reduction burns




Does climate change make bushfires worse?

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that Australia's fire season is growing longer and more intense due to the effects of climate change. Climate change has seen an increase in extreme heat events and drought around the country. Droughts are going to get longer and come more often, increasing the impact of fires and creating dangerous conditions for fires to burn more intensely and spread fast. 

Read more here: Scientists say the NSW mega fires are linked to climate change. Here's how | SBS News

Do the Greens support hazard reduction burns?

Yes. The Australian Greens support hazard reduction burning (before bushfire season) to reduce the impact of bushfire when guided by the best scientific, ecological and emergency service expertise. Our policy on this is clear and hasn't changed recently. For more on the Australian Greens' policy on bushfire management, please refer to Aim 8 of our Environmental Principles.

“Problem is it’s drier and hotter. Around here we’ve been trying to do hazard reductions all year.” Blaming "greenies" for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but basically untrue claim.”

– Greg Mullins, fmr Fire & Rescue Commissioner

Read more here: Factcheck: Is there really a green conspiracy to stop bushfire hazard reduction? | The Guardian 

Read more here: This is not normal: what's different about the NSW mega fires | SMH

Have the Greens recently changed their policy on hazard reduction burns?

No. The Greens have supported hazard reduction burns for a long time. For example, here’s a Facebook post from 2013.

Have Greens policies made it harder for Firies to backburn?

No. The Greens support back burning to reduce the impact of fires.

“It’s very (insulting) to say they haven’t done enough of these burns, but the conditions have to be right to do hazard reductions. It comes down to cuts.”

– Nathan Bradshaw, Public Service Association

Read more here: Danger of cutbacks to rangers burns NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro | The Australian

Was there less backburning in 2019?

No. NSW Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers stated  there has not  been less hazard-­reduction burning in 2019 than in previous years. “Hazard reductions have gone on each and every year”. He added hazard reduction on its own was not enough to prevent bushfires.

We should be listening to First Nations people on how to manage country!

Yes. We agree.  All Greens policies are made in close consultation with First Nations peoples. We acknowledge that First Nations peoples have always led the way in caring for Country. Governments at all levels should be co-designing and consulting with First Nations peoples when making decisions about land management and the environment.

What is the difference between a hazard reduction burn and back burning?

Hazard reduction (also known variously as prescribed, planned, controlled or fuel-reduction burning) is the targeted burning of bushland to control fire behaviour (often in winter). 

Back burning is a last-resort measure to stop bushfires from burning out specific areas. It works by setting fires from containment lines, such as established fire breaks.

Our plan for a renewable economy & climate change

Creating a renewable economy that tackles climate change, creates jobs, makes bills cheaper and energy more reliable.

This is a climate emergency

Right now, we are facing an existential climate crisis that threatens human civilisation and our government must start paying attention. This election is our chance. Strong action on climate is possible now.