Deputy Premier says Climate Change is Impacting Emergency Services

Deputy Premier and Emergency Services Minister James Merlino has told a parliamentary inquiry that climate change is putting an increasing strain on Victoria's emergency services such as firefighting. 

"Climate change is real and it's having an impact on our emergency services," Mr Merlino said.

In statements to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, the Minister noted that Victoria's bushfire season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and becoming more intense from climate change. These factors are making it challenging to manage the aviation fleet of large tankers that are also used in the northern hemisphere. 

Friends of the Earth commend the Deputy Premier for his frank comments about the real impacts of climate change. 

"It's refreshing to hear Deputy Premier James Merlino's honest comments about the impacts of climate change," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate coordinator.  

"Mr Merlino's comments underscore the need for urgent action to tackle climate change."

"With the state's fire season starting earlier and lasting longer as a result of climate change, we need greater investment to protect communities from its impacts."

Minister Merlino's comments on climate change impacts are inline with what has been occurring on the ground in the Central Goldfields region where hotter and drier conditions have been observed. 

The Bureau of Meteorology reported record dry conditions for the region in June 2017. Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Penny Whetton told The Maryborough Advertiser the dry conditions were linked to climate change.

In its Special Climate Statement, the BOM stated that the 2018 autumn heatwave smashed the record for Maryborough's hottest April day—a scorching 35.7 degrees on April 11.  

Friends of the Earth say state government policies to rein in emissions and protect communities from climate change impacts is something all political parties can support. 

The group is working with community members across the region to call for state political parties to commit to setting ambitious Emissions Reduction Targets and deliver Victoria's first Climate Budget.

"With the Federal government failing to act on climate change, we need to see greater leadership from the Victorian government."

"Climate change is a growing concern for the community and people are looking to politicians to invest in climate solutions."

Friends of the Earth will be closely monitoring climate change policy in the lead up to the state election on November 24. 

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