Australia’s science minister wants the debate over the realities of climate change to end, as various experts prepare to meet in Canberra.
Karen Andrews will on Wednesday meet with representatives from the CSIRO, the Academy of Science and bushfire researchers to discuss ways to address bushfires through science and technology.
She admits it’s a “fair” question as to why it’s the first time she’s sat down with all of the agencies, given how long bushfire warnings have been in place.
Ms Andrews says Wednesday’s roundtable will be the first of many, and she’s not prepared to continue debating whether climate change is real or not.
“Every second that we spend talking about whether the climate is changing, is a second we are not spending on looking at adaptation, mitigation strategies,” she told ABC radio.
“It really is time for everyone to move on and to look at what we’re going to do.”
Her view puts her at odds with outspoken Coalition backbencher and former furniture salesman Craig Kelly, who denies climate change.
Environmental experts are meeting in Canberra to sit down with minister Sussan Ley, with protecting koalas and other species top of the agenda.
Graphic footage of koalas caught up in blazes across the country has been aired around the world, with millions of dollars pledged to help protect them.
The koala pulled his hands towards itself and held his hand ❤
My heart can’t 😭pic.twitter.com/HyXLMumCom
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) January 14, 2020
Ms Ley will meet with Australia’s threatened species commissioner and other experts following the announcement of a $50 million program to support environmental groups and intervene to save wildlife.
It’s believed more than one billion animals have perished in the fires.
Samantha Vine from Birdlife Australia says it’s inevitable many of the nation’s unique species have been pushed to the brink of extinction.
“Bird species that we are most concerned about include the Kangaroo Island glossy black cockatoo, the regent honeyeater and the western ground parrot and the northern eastern bristlebird,” she said.
Thanks to our #birdata monitoring system, we have some picture of where birds occurred before the fires. But we need your help to ensure we can get teams out as soon as it’s safe to monitor what has survived. To support us support our people, go to https://t.co/G3qc9OrdkJ
— BirdLife Australia (@BirdlifeOz) January 14, 2020
Part of the $50 million has gone to Sydney’s internationally renowned Taronga Zoo, as well as Zoos South Australia and Zoos Victoria for the treatment of injured animals and the establishment of “insurance populations”.
The meetings are part of a strategy by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to get the best advice from experts on a range of topics to inform the government’s bushfire response.
Education Minister Dan Tehan will meet with education sector representatives while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will hear from financial counsellors.
On Thursday, farming representatives will come to Canberra to discuss the recovery of the agriculture sector, which has been thrown a $100 million lifeline in the form of grants of up to $75,000 to rebuild fences and replace equipment.
Meetings to discuss tourism and bushfire relief will be held on Friday.