A former NSW fire chief helping fight unprecedented bushfires across the state says federal government inaction on climate change is "galling" and politicians are continuing to gag debate.
Ex-fire and rescue commissioner Greg Mullins was part of a coalition of former fire bosses who in November said Canberra should declare a climate emergency in the face of a "new age of unprecedented bushfire danger".
A month on, he says political leaders have continued stifling debate because "if you don't have an answer for something you try and divert the conversation".
"The (federal) government's inaction is galling," he told AAP on Tuesday en route to a fire at Mangrove Mountain on NSW's Central Coast.
"We're talking about 100 or more years of pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but it falls to this government to take action.
"Nobody is saying climate change causes bushfires, it just exacerbates the conditions for them to turn out like this.
"We have to take note. We must demand our government take real measures so that 30 years or 100 years in the future people have a better chance than they do now."
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott has been criticised after telling the BBC on the weekend the concerns raised by the former fire chiefs were "inappropriate" and "unpalatable".
Leading oceanographer and UNSW climate scientist Professor Matthew England told AAP the Australian public was sick of "head in the sand" politics when it came to climate change.
But Mr Mullins says the NSW government is actually taking the issue seriously - at least compared to Canberra.
He says Mr Elliott was a "good man" who "gets it" as does state Environment Minister Matt Kean and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Mr Kean on Tuesday told an energy summit "this is not normal and doing nothing is not a solution".
The environment minister said scientists had warned climate change would lead to more drought and bushfire and the current crisis should be a catalyst for change, Nine newspapers reported.
NSW is trying to do more on emissions and renewables and the Berejiklian government is resourcing the state's fire services "very well", including paying for additional water-bombing aircraft, Mr Mullins said.
"I think they're being gagged (by Canberra)," he told AAP.
"Probably because it would cast aspersions on their federal colleagues who are sitting there pretending there's no such thing as climate change.
"Canberra has dropped the ball entirely on emissions reductions."
Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly argued against discussing the link between climate change and bushfires at the height of emergency work.
But a recent survey released by UNSW shows a majority of Australians think it is right to discuss climate change during natural disasters.
Mr Mullins on Tuesday admitted when he was in charge of Fire and Rescue NSW "there was pressure on me not to link fires to climate change back in 2009 after Black Saturday".
But he says people must speak out now because the situation is so dire.
"The worst is to come this season because it's going to get hotter and drier and there's no significant rain in the outlooks.
"The sheer scale of these fires .... we're really up against it."
Australian Associated Press
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