Tony Abbott at Davidson Rural Fire Brigade, where he volunteers, on Tuesday.Acting opposition leader Warren Truss says it is ”too simplistic” to link the current heatwave and fires to climate change.
In Brisbane on Wednesday, Mr Truss acknowledged the record heatwave, but said Australia’s climate was changeable, with hot times and cold times.
”The reality is, it’s being utterly simplistic to suggest that we have these fires because of climate change,” he said.
”It’s too simplistic to link one hot spell to climate change.”
Earlier this week, when touring fire-affected areas of Tasmania, Prime Minister Julia Gillard linked extreme weather events to climate change.
”While you would not put any one event down to climate change . . . we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events,” she said.
Labor frontbencher Peter Garrett said on Wednesday said that Australia could expect more hot days.
“I haven’t heard our scientists start to draw a direct connection between the heat we’ve seen over the last couple of days and climate change,” he said.
“But over time I think we can expect to see, consistent with climate predictions, increasing numbers of hot and dry days.”
As Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology says this heatwave – in terms of its duration, intensity and extent – is unprecedented in its records.
”Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be,” Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction David Jones said.
As the warming trend increases over coming years, record-breaking heat will become more and more common, he said.
Mr Truss is acting opposition leader as Tony Abbott has been deployed to Nowra, in south-coast NSW, as a volunteer with his local fire brigade.
Mr Abbott has delayed his annual holiday – which was due to start tomorrow – by three days to help the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade.
He spent Wednesday morning at Dean’s Gap where he was spotted driving a fire truck.
Mr Abbott has been a volunteer with his local fire brigade since 2000. ”I urge all people living in areas facing fire risk at this time to monitor emergency messages carefully, activate their fire plans and stay safe,” he said in a statement.
Housing Minister Brendan O’Connor was not impressed by Mr Abbott’s volunteering.
On Wednesday he retweeted a tweet the Opposition Leader sent on Tuesday about the fires – “I’m now on my way to Sydney to be on standby with my local fire brigade” – and added the hashtag “standbystunt.”
Mr O’Connor appeared to have deleted the tweet shortly after sending it.
Also on Wednesday, Ms Gillard tweeted her thanks to those helping fight the fires: ”Our thanks go to firefighters, police, SES and everyone fighting the fires. You’ve worked a miracle keeping so many people and homes safe.”
With Ben Cubby
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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.