Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed regret over his handling of the bushfire crisis ravaging the country.
Amid increased criticism, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his response to the country’s bushfire crisis could have been “much better.” The Australian leader also hinted that a change in climate policy is in the cards.
In an interview with the ABC’s Insiders host, David Speers, Morrison said the fires had made his government “think a little harder” on how to provide comfort and consolation to the victims.
“These are sensitive environments, they are very emotional environments,” said Morrison, adding that “prime ministers are flesh and blood too in how they engage with these people.”
Morrison said he will now put a proposal for a royal commission into the fire crisis to Cabinet. The inquiry would look at how the government should respond and offer support to those affected.
Dozens of people have died, thousands of homes destroyed, and huge swathes of the country burnt in the blazes that began months before the official fire season even started, putting fresh scrutiny on the country’s environmental policies.
Days before Morrison’s interview, tens of thousands of Australians marched across several capital cities calling on the government to act on the climate crisis.
Morrison’s government stands accused of trying to use accounting trickery to meet the country’s emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement — targets that critics say are too low in the first place — while it also commits to new fossil fuel projects.
Australia’s current targets involve cutting carbon emission by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
When asked whether the country would alter its emissions target, Morrison told the ABC that his government “will continue to evolve our policies to meet our targets and to beat them.”
“We want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better and better at it,” he said.
But he added that he wanted to do that “with a balanced policy” that “recognizes Australia’s broader national economic interests and social interest.”