Australian prime minister's approval rating goes up in flames

Eloise Marshall
January 15, 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that he will propose a royal commission for the bushfire crisis affecting the country, admitting that things "could have done much better".

Newspoll showed that Morrison's approval rating dropped 8 points to the lowest level since he assumed the leadership of the Liberal Party in August 2018.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese yesterday said the federal government should have acted earlier to address the disaster.

-Frydenberg announced A$50 million in funding on Monday for protecting wildlife and restoring damaged habitat, with a focus on threatened species, like koalas, with heartbreaking images of rescues of burned animals having gone viral around the world.

The Australian, a major newspaper in the country, on Monday published the results of a poll of 1,500 people conducted between Wednesday and Saturday of last week.

Morrison on Sunday acknowledged a groundswell of anger about the climate-fueled fires.

Appearing on ABC Australia's Insiders, Morrison told host David Speers that the inquiry will examine how the government should respond to and offer support those affected by the blazes that have killed more than 20 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

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The New South Wales Rural Fire Service was quoted as saying that if the forecast is accurate, "then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one".

Betts said Australia was particularly vulnerable to fires since its land area had warmed by more than the rise in average global temperature of about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times. The premier said that he is consistently making the world aware of the challenges of environmental changes which can not be fought exclusively by any country.

Firefighters and other emergency personnel will be able to access more intensive support through better-funded specialist organisations.

Over the weekend, thousands of protesters took part in rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, calling for Mr Morrison to be sacked and for Australia to take tougher action on climate change.

The fires have emitted 400 megatonnes of carbon dioxide and produced harmful pollutants, the European Union's Copernicus monitoring program said. It forecast a hit of 0.2% to 0.5% on gross domestic product.

-Westpac estimated total bushfire losses to date at about A$5 billion, higher than the 2009 bushfires in Victoria but smaller than the Queensland floods in 2010/11.

The effects had not only been observed in Australia, but from the western United States and Canada, to southern Europe, Scandinavia, the Amazon and Siberia, the review found.

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