Shire notes with councillor Josh Brown

We are six weeks into summer and our Shire has, mercifully, remained relatively unscathed by the unprecedented fire activity ravaging much of our nation.

We are all so thankful for the tremendous work of our Rural Fire Service volunteers and emergency services, who have coordinated a remarkable effort to control so many large fires across Australia.

It is hard to appreciate just how much work these extraordinary people have undertaken over the last six months, without which the disaster would have been impossibly worse.

Despite these efforts, the level of annihilation is without precedent. It is difficult to fully appreciate the scale of these fires and the destruction they have wreaked. Over 63,000 square kilometres have been burnt, around 2,500 buildings razed, countless businesses destroyed and too many tragic deaths.

Nobody has seen anything like the scale of these fires, which are fanned by very dry conditions and searing hot temperatures. Last weekend saw Penrith in Western Sydney reach 49 degrees, its hottest ever recorded temperature.

Senior politicians in Canberra and Sydney can deny links between drought and climate change all they like but they cannot put the genie back in the bottle. The scale of these fires makes that task impossible.

Rather than spruiking "now is not the time to talk about climate change" like automatons, our political leaders need to lead. We need to have the discussion now. But first, we must remove the politics and ideology from talk of climate change, which far too often occupies the minds of senior political figures.

Pragmatically, it really does not matter whether the present circumstances of climate change are a result of human activity or whether they have occurred naturally. What is important is recognising that the climate is changing and that there are dire consequences, some of which we are experiencing now. There are measures we can take to help arrest the rate and impact of climate change. And if we don't, we live in peril.

If the number of people killed and the extent of property destruction meted out by these fires had been perpetrated by a band of terrorists or an invading army, would the Government not try and intervene to stop it from happening?

Australia is a mature country and now more than ever is the time for a sensible discussion about these matters and for the Federal Government to facilitate all necessary actions to help our communities survive and thrive.

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