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Time to heal our communities

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Bob Brown 9 Feb 2009

Our hearts go out to all the victims, their families, friends and loved ones.

Many of those who died in the communities touched by fire loved nature. However, these bushfires have spared no-one on the basis of their beliefs.

The Greens have expressed their deepest, heart-felt sympathy to all those who have lost loved ones - fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, friends and neighbours. The grief of this moment in our history runs deep and will be slow to heal.

And helping that healing is our national task.

Our endless gratitude must go to the fire-fighters, whose strength and courage have saved so many.

And to the community leaders, neighbours and friends, who pitched in with acts of heroism to save lives and property, as well as all who have helped in the wake of the fires.

In such a tragedy grief naturally gives way to anger, sometimes warranted and sometimes misdirected.

People who respect the environment need not go quiet when a politically-motivated campaign against conservation policies unfolds.

Such campaigns fundamentally disrespect those victims of the bushfires, their friends and relatives.

We Greens have been reticent to get involved in public debates while the dead are still unaccounted for.

But it is extremely important that the Australian community understands that some of the loudest attacks on conservation policies are politically motivated and some have originated far from the fire-damaged region.

For the record: the Greens are not opposed to fuel reduction burns. Our policy clearly supports effective habitat management, including ecologically appropriate use of fire. The media has known this throughout. Senator Brown's comments on climate change have been in response to direct media questioning and were never gratuitous.

Many questions remain, for example, the degree to which climate change is making bushfires worse. The upcoming Royal Commission must be prepared to engage with all of them. Indeed, the United Firefighters Union of Australia has also called for greater national disaster preparedness in the face of existing climate impacts, and for the inquiry to be national in its scope. They have also pointed to the need for much stronger action on climate change. Senator Brown has asked the Prime Minister to seek to have the Commonwealth join in setting up the commission.

Yet now is a time for helping and mourning - not for misdirected rancour, or for being made a target for caring about nature.

As Greens we will continue to be active in our communities helping our friends and neighbours to recover and regain their wellbeing.

Our contribution is to show compassion and kindness to each other and the Earth, and to contribute - as we always do - our ideas, our energy, our commitment to re-build better communities from this dark tragedy, and to help reduce the risks of it happening again.

Yours sincerely,

Australian Greens senators Bob Brown, Christine Milne, Rachel Siewert, Sarah Hanson-Young & Scott Ludlam

Greens Policy: Our policy

The Greens are encouraging anyone who can afford to, to help out with donations for those who have lost everything, as well as to fire services across Australia.If you can give blood, supplies will be desperately needed.

Online donations via the Red Cross can be made here.

Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund - 1800 811 700 

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