Climate change impacts Vic emergency fight

Kaitlyn Offer
Victoria has had trouble sourcing shared firefighting aircraft due to climate change

Victoria's emergency services are coming under increasing strain due to climate change, a state parliamentary inquiry has been told, with access to internationally-shared firefighting aircraft negatively affected.

Emergency Services Minister James Merlino told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday the state's fire season was starting earlier, lasting longer and was more intense, and the state needed more aircraft.

"Climate change is real and it's having an impact on our emergency services," Mr Merlino said.

"It's getting quite challenging in terms of our aviation fleet and those large air tankers ... those planes fly around the world, (in) the northern hemisphere they want and need to keep the planes for a longer period of time, we want and need those planes earlier."

The Department of Justice and Regulation currently measures climate change's impact on fires but a broader look at other disasters should be considered, the hearing was told.

"The data around fire is more mature and has been because of the backdrop of what Victoria has experienced all of its life," Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said.

"Fire does dominate in our data collection process.

"That's not a reason not to expand it though."

Mr Lapsley said an Emergency Management Victoria staffer works within the state's climate change office, ensuring that work is not done in isolation.

Mr Merlino spent four hours in front of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee taking questions on education and emergency services.

The deputy premier faced heavy scrutiny over the handling of the fire services pay deal and attempted reforms, like Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday.

Mr Merlino admitted he has met with United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall privately, saying the meetings were relevant to the portfolio and he would continue to talk to all stakeholders.

He also denied any secret promises were made to Mr Marshall or that the UFU would be consulted on the new Metropolitan Fire Brigade chief, despite the union official's claims.