Fires bring out the worst in Aussie politicians
AUSTRALIAN politicians were at their worst yesterday, making "disgusting" comments politicising the bushfires - and even the deceased victims - while the deadly blazes closed in on people's homes.
A Greens Senator accused the major parties of being "arsonists" for not debating climate change, while former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said two people who died in the fires "were most likely people who voted for the Green party".
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese was also heckled while holding a press conference near the Nimbin evacuation centre, with a distressed woman yelling and accusing him of turning it into a circus.
"You're house is not burning, my house is burning down," she said.
During debate on "big stick" power company divestiture legislation, Senator Jordon Steele-John accused both sides of politics of "feeble mumblings" for not debating the impact of climate change on bushfires while the blazes are still threatening people's homes.
"How dare any of you suggest that in this moment, at this time, it is appropriate to be prosecuting a piece of legislation propping coal," he said.
"You're no better than arsonists. Borderline arsonists. You should be ashamed."
Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt said it was political point scoring and highly offensive.
"If we're not lucky, people may die and people may lose their properties," he said.
"To be referring to anyone in this (Senate) chamber, regardless of their political party, as an arsonist is beyond offensive."
Meanwhile, Mr Joyce made his comments while arguing that "Green policies" stopped hazard reduction burning and that there needed to be more legislation to allow firefighters to do more.
"(Firefighters) may need more resources, but they also need legislation regulations to allow them to get in there and (backburn) in a more substantial way and that's the crazy thing there, and I acknowledge that the two people who died were most likely people who voted for the Green party, so I am not going to start attacking them. That's the last thing I want to do," Mr Joyce told Sky News.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Mr Joyce's comments were not appropriate.
"We believe, that it is not an appropriate time to bring politics into this debate, when people have lost their lives and while these same fires continue to burn," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said preventive hazard reduction burns in national parks should be debated, but now was not the right time.
"The time to have those policy discussions are not in the middle of an operational response," he said.