Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
The Australian fires cover an area nearly twice the size of Wales
2 January 2020, 14:27 | Updated: 6 January 2020, 13:43
The Australian bushfires have reached international attention this week. This Twitter thread explains why the disaster is quite so serious.
Historian Bodie Ashton has called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to resign for his response to the fires.
Writing in a fascinating Twitter thread, he explained why you need to pay attention to the fires.
He wrote: "More Aussie land is currently burning than exists in the entire country of Belgium. The smoke is causing breathing problems in New Zealand, 2,000km away. Half a billion animals have been killed. Eight people are dead.
"The devastation in Australia right now far exceeds the Amazon fires or the California fires by MANY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE and there is no expectation that it will recede for at least several more months. In parts of Sydney, breathing the air is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes.
"One-seventh of the state of Victoria is on fire. The fire front in the state of New South Wales is so long that, if you made it a straight line, it would stretch from Sydney to Afghanistan. The fires are being fought by volunteers."
I want to give some perspective for people not from Australia.— Bodie Ashton (@manwithoutatan) January 1, 2020
More Aussie land is currently burning than exists in the entire country of Belgium. The smoke is causing breathing problems in New Zealand, 2,000km away. Half a billion animals have been killed. Eight people are dead.
Mr Ashton revealed his frustration that these volunteers are not only doing it unpaid, but are largely unemployed people who have lost their benefits because of their work.
He said: "Many of the volunteer firefighters are unemployed; their benefits have been suspended because, while they’re saving people and habitats and homes, they can’t apply for the requisite number of jobs per week the government expects them to to continue receiving benefits.
"Having originally said that volunteer firefighters 'want to be there' and none will be paid, the federal government has now approved that firefighters who have taken days off work will now be paid $300/day for a maximum 20 days.
when this emergency ends (optimistically) it will have lasted for some five to six months; 20 days of pay for that time is ludicrous. But also note that it ONLY APPLIES FOR FIREFIGHTERS WHO HAVE TAKEN LEAVE FROM WORK.
"Unemployed people who are volunteering not only do not get paid, but ALSO have their unemployment payments suspended."
The historian saved most of his anger for the Australian Prime Minister "The Australian government refuses to discuss the fact that the NSW fires have now been burning for three months, and will still be burning in three months. Climate change is a “political issue” that shouldn’t be discussed at this time, apparently.
"If you were wondering why I keep yelling that Scott Morrison is a coward who must resign, this is why. He didn’t start this, no. But he is the prime minister who, in this moment of Armageddon, continues to insist that climate change is not worth talking about.
"And it is HIS people who, learning that two people had been killed, quipped that it was okay because they 'probably voted Green'. This man is a gormless quisling who fiddles (at resorts in Hawaii) while Australia burns, and he comes back to sing the praises of coal."