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The time for debate is over

Last week I was on Kangaroo Island. The fire-ravaged landscape looks like a warzone. Homes destroyed, lives torn apart, forest decimated and dead animals everywhere. Climate fires have been burning across the country since September, and the new year has only brought more horror, and there's still two months of summer to go. 

The time for debate is over – we need a climate and environment policy that is fit for the crisis we’re in.

Communities are in shock. We have never seen anything like this and we weren't prepared for it. Locals and firies on Kangaroo Island told me the ferocity and intensity of these fires were like nothing else. It is as if the landscape has been vaporised. This is what scientists and fire experts warned the government of. Tragically these predictions have come to pass. 

In times of crisis like this, community spirit shines through. People band together. People volunteer, donate and give each a shoulder to cry on. They share in each other's grief, anger and determination.

On KI, like in other fire-ravaged areas, there are immediate needs of emergency relief for people who have lost loved ones, homes and jobs. Firefighters and volunteers are bracing for the next wave of dangerous weather. But alongside the short-term needs, people are telling me they want policies and actions that will make our climate safer and protect our environment. 

The regions these fires are burning in are areas where many Australians live and love to visit because they are home our unique and beautiful bushland, coastline and native animals. As we rebuild our towns with new homes, sporting clubs and local businesses we must also save and restore the precious environment. 

The environment on KI has been decimated. An estimated 25,000 koalas are dead. Half a billion animals have perished across the country. Bushland and animals need specific attention and commitment to restore and protect. 

I am appealing to the Prime Minister for specific investment in wildlife recovery and habitat restoration - a fighting fund for the environment. This cannot be left as an after-thought it must be central to the rebuild of our towns and communities. 

These fires are unprecedented. They are climate fires. We must respond urgently and with science. 

We are in the midst of environmental catastrophe. It’s a tragic reality that Australia is the third-largest exporter of fossil fuels, and is now copping the worst of climate change. This is an awakening for everybody.

Australians in the midst of these fires, continued evacuations and living in the smoke-filled air, know this is unprecedented and linked to climate change. Lack of clean water, lack of clean air, dangerous climate fires - this is the environmental catastrophe scientists have been warning about and it’s here right now.

The time for debate is over – we need a climate and environment policy that is fit for the crisis we’re in.

Please take care of yourselves and each other. We are stronger together.

In solidarity,



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