Scorched earth at the scene of the September Peregian fires. Hotter and dryer conditions through early spring and into summer has led to a series of major fires since then. Our politicians say rather than greater action on climate change, the solution lies in better fuel-load management. AAP Image/Rob Maccoll
Scorched earth at the scene of the September Peregian fires. Hotter and dryer conditions through early spring and into summer has led to a series of major fires since then. Our politicians say rather than greater action on climate change, the solution lies in better fuel-load management. AAP Image/Rob Maccoll

MPs target fuel loads as key cause of fire emergency

CLIMATE change is real, but the answer to reducing the severity of bushfires across the country is reducing fuel loads, rather than increasing emission control targets.

That is the opinion of Sunshine Coast's federal politicians who fell in line to back their leaders.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison returned home early from a Hawaiian holiday after facing a barrage of criticism for his absence as flames consumed entire towns, took lives and destroyed hundreds of homes across the country.

He declared his government was doing enough in the face of the fire threat and would not shift on its climate change response.

Those remarks were seemingly at odds with Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack's statement one day prior while filling in for Mr Morrison that Australia "absolutely" must do more to tackle climate change.

"There is no argument, in my view and the government's view, and any government in the country, about the links between broader issues of global climate change and weather events around the world," Mr Morrison said.

"But I'm sure people would equally acknowledge the direct connection to any single fire event is not a credible suggestion to make that link.

"We must take action on climate change and we are taking action on climate change."

Fisher MP Andrew Wallace (LNP) has declared the government has the right settings to ensure Australia's commitments to Kyoto and Paris targets were met.

That's a position shared by Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien (Nationals).

Both also called for national park fuel loads to be reduced to minimise the threat of fire danger.

"Clearly the amount of fuel loads have been permitted to be at dangerous levels," Mr Wallace said.

"This has to be addressed. All state and territory jurisdictions need to step up their plans to do just that and they need to increase and enforce appropriate criminal penalties for those who are convicted of lighting these fires.

"Sadly, police are looking to prosecute more than 30 people for deliberately lighting fires and it is likely there will be more to come.

"It is also important to recognise that emergency management is the responsibility of the states and territories, not the Federal Government.

"That said, when the states have asked the Federal Government for support, we have given that support in the form of additional funding to the states and territories and those affected by the fires.

"The Australian Defence Force have been supporting our fireys since November 8 in the form of air transport, logistics, medical, and catering for thousands of fire service personnel."

Mr O'Brien said Australia was doing enough to meet its international obligations.

"The climate is definitely changing," he said.

"What we need to do more is manage the hazard.

"National park fuel loads have to be reduced. Unless we do that, we're not taking action to keep people safe."

Mr O'Brien said better land use planning could also ensure people built in areas of lesser hazard.

In response to questions about whether he agreed with Mr McCormack, Parliamentary Environment and Energy Committee chair Ted O'Brien (LNP, Fairfax), said Australia was "taking more action to tackle climate change than ever before" and that such action was set to continue.

"While Australia has a proud track record of beating its international emissions reduction targets, these targets are only one part of a three-pronged policy that seeks to balance energy reliability and affordability whilst reducing emissions, and we're delivering on all fronts," Mr O'Brien said.