Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne

MAYORS OF FIRE-STRICKEN AREAS have signed a statement calling on the Australian Government to acknowledge the link between climate change and the catastrophic fire conditions facing New South Wales and Queensland this week.

Eleven mayors, including the leaders of fire-impacted council areas such as Bellingen, MidCoast and Noosa, as well as areas on extreme fire alert such as the Blue Mountains, Ryde, Hawkesbury and Byron Shire, have called on the government to recognise the spiralling costs to the community from catastrophic fires, and provide more funding and resources for frontline services.

Simon Richardson, Mayor of Byron Shire, said that now is the time to talk about climate change, and called on the State and Federal Governments to face up to the heightened threat from hotter, longer fire seasons gripping regional communities.

“Everybody who’s involved with the bushfires are talking about climate change, the only people who aren’t talking about it are the politicians and their media supporters,” he said.

Dominic King, Mayor of Bellingen, said that his community, in an area that does not normally experience fires, is struggling with the new fire risk. 

“It’s quite obvious that this is very different from something that we would expect on the Mid North Coast. This is a wet area that has lots of rainforest and we’re seeing them dry out and burn,” he said.

“It’s also quite obvious to anyone who’s been watching the discussion around climate change that this is exactly what the scientists were talking about.”

Full Statement from Australian Mayors

The fires this week in Australia have placed hundreds of thousands of people in great danger. 

The catastrophic conditions for these fires were, at least in part, fuelled by climate change. 

13 of the 14 hottest years on record have occurred this century. Last year Queensland experienced catastrophic fire conditions for the first time. This week, Sydney experienced catastrophic fire conditions for the first time.

Climate change has grave costs for our community that can no longer be ignored. The fires on across Australia this week have caused catastrophic damage. 

In the  past week, people have lost their lives, their loved ones, and their homes. Many businesses have lost the ability to operate and trade.

Our air has been filled with smoke, making it hard to breathe and affecting thousands of people with respiratory issues.

Fire seasons are now starting earlier and lasting longer. Apart from the stress this takes on first responders and communities, it also results in a shrinking window to carry out hazard reduction burns.

Now, it is time to honestly and bravely address one of the major causes of these fires, climate change.

Now we need to significantly increase funding to frontline services.

Now we need to place the welfare and safety of citizens ahead of profit, and to support those companies offering real solutions

Some regional towns are already running out of water. How will they survive the next fire? 

Many in the insurance industry are saying that large areas of Australia will be uninsurable. 

This government has the chance to be the first to turn the years of inaction and neglect into action and focus and allow our communities to reap the rewards

When we have a crisis, it makes sense for us to listen to emergency service professionals

Now, it makes sense for our federal government to listen to the warnings of those on the frontline.

We need the government to acknowledge the link between climate change and bushfire, we need more funding for all emergency services, and we need the government to take the action required to prevent megafires.

Now is not the time for blame. Now is the time for leadership, and keeping all Australians safe.

This joint statement is signed by:

Tony Wellington, Mayor Noosa Shire Council

Simon Richardson, Mayor Byron Shire 

Claire Pontin, Deputy Mayor MidCoast Council

Dominic King, Mayor Bellingen Shire Council

Katie Milne, Mayor Tweed Shire

Amanda Findlay, Mayor Shoalhaven City Council

Clover Moore, Lord Mayor City of Sydney

Elly Bird, Deputy Mayor Lismore City Council

Jerome Laxale, Mayor City of Ryde 

Barry Calvert, Mayor Hawkesbury City Council

Emma Heyde, Councillor Hornsby Shire Council

Mark Greenhill, Mayor Blue Mountains City Council

Peta Pinson, Mayor Port Macquarie-Hastings Council