Firefighters in Australia Say Situation 'Out of Control' as Prime Minister Denies Request for Emergency Aid

The ring of bushfires raging around Australia is “out of control,” firefighters said Monday night, and the country’s government appears unwilling—or unable—to take action to assist those battling the blazes despite the danger.

Volunteer Fire Firefighters Association president Mick Holton, in comments to Australian paper the Age, said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New South Wales (NSW) premier Gladys Berejiklian were ignoring the need for equipment and income support from firefighters on the front lines.

As the BBC reported, Morrison is standing firm against aiding the firefighters:

Public support for the “firies” is at an all-time high. In the swing of the Christmas season, shops and restaurants are donating profits to the NSW RFS. Online, there have been fundraisers to buy masks, food, and other supplies for the crews.

However, Australia’s government has so far rejected the calls for compensation.

“Now is not the time to go into it. Let’s get through this [bushfire crisis] first,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday.

“Basically, they [the government and RFS] are saying keep chewing smoke and we will have a look at it after the fire season,” Holton told Age.

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Making things worse, Holton said, was the fact that NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons appears unwilling to directly ask for assistance.

“The fact that they haven’t asked for federal support indicates that they believe they have the situation in hand,” said Holton. “That is definitely not the case.”

“The situation is quite the opposite,” Holton added. “It is out of control.”

The perceived inaction by federal officials in Australia to comprehend the magnitude of the crisis was on display Monday when Morrison refused to consider curbing coal production. As Common Dreams reported, Morrison’s statement was met with incredulity by green groups and advocates, who called the statement shortsighted. 

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg on Sunday tweeted her dismay over the situation in Australia.

“Not even catastrophes like these seem to bring any political action,” said Thunberg. “How is this possible?”

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