Today show criticised over Pauline Hanson's 'dangerous' bushfire rant

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

The Today show has been criticised over an interview with Pauline Hanson after she rubbished suggestions climate change is the cause of the ongoing bushfire crisis.

The One Nation leader was firm in her stance as she appeared on the Today show on Monday morning, telling Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon she believes the fires have been fuelled by inaction from local, state and federal governments due to red tape.

“Government legislation... has put us in the predicament we are in now,” she said.

“When forest floors have not been allowed to be cleared or the fires break done, or the RFS been able to do their job effectively, or people building houses can’t clear the trees because of this legislation, it is ridiculous.”

She said fuel had built up over more than 30 years, priming the nation for “this stage now”.

Pauline Hanson suggested climate change wasn't the driving force behind this year's catastrophic bushfire season. Source: The Today Show

Her drastic on-air appearance comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he intends to launch a royal commission into this season’s fires that have so far killed 28 people across the nation.

“If you’re going to have a Royal Commission into it, throw bloody climate change out of the window and let’s look at the pure facts on why we’ve had the bushfires,” she continued.

“The climate is changing, you can’t tell me that taxing people, that putting up electricity costs is going to change the climate. The climate is changing pure to nature itself and our relation to the sun.”

Ms Hanson slammed plans to increase electricity prices to foot the bill for climate change action.

She said a price hike would hinder hard-working Australians in rural areas who simply cannot afford an increase.

Pauline Hanson said a Royal Commission would be worthwhile if it focused on the 'facts'. Source: The Today Show

She suggested if the nation is serious about decelerating climate change, carbon emissions from transport need to be the focus.

“If you’re fair dinkum on climate change and you think it’s having a big impact on us then take all the aeroplanes out of the sky,” she said.

“Don’t fly planes, don’t drive cars, let’s really be serious about it if you’re going to be, and not destroy people’s lives.”

Today show criticised for giving Hanson platform

Ms Hanson’s interview sparked heated discussion online, many slamming her viewpoint and Channel Nine’s decision to allow her to voice her opinions on the show.

“Why give her a platform when she doesn't understand the science? It's like asking me about brain surgery, I wouldn't know where to start,” one person questioned.

“Climate change denial is treason against Australia,” another quipped.

“Her views are dangerous,” one person tweeted.

“I didn't realise she had a degree in environmental science...” another said.

However a small minority commenting were in agreement with Ms Hanson’s stance, with some questioning what her doubters were doing to reduce carbon emissions.

Her stance comes days after Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart also voiced her concerns about preparations for bushfire season.

“[Ms Rinehart] is most concerned that the true causes of this sad devastation are tackled, rather than missed in the rush to blame climate change,” a spokesperson for the mining magnate told Yahoo Lifestyle last week.

Morrison regrets handling of bushfires

Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the impending inquiry as he conceded there were things he could have handled better at a personal level. Polls show his popularity has suffered as a result.

Mr Morrison has faced weeks of criticism starting with his decision to take his family on a holiday to Hawaii and flowing through to his fire-ground visits during which he was met with anger and frustration.

The latest plank in the federal response is a $76 million mental health plan to provide support to firefighters and residents in affected communities, but more announcements are expected in coming weeks including a Royal Commission and further support for small business.

"There are things I could have handled on the ground much better," Mr Morrison told ABC TV on Sunday.

"These are sensitive, emotional environments.

Scott Morrison said he regrets his response to the bushfire crisis. Source: AAP

"Prime ministers are flesh and blood too in how they engage with these people."

He said in hindsight he would not have taken his family for a holiday to Hawaii, despite being defensive about it in a radio interview at the time.

His original intention was to holiday, as was routine for his family, on the NSW south coast.

Mr Morrison said the scale of the bushfires was "unprecedented" and had created a situation in which Australians were demanding a greater response from the federal government than had been provided in the past.

"That was not something that was recommended going into this fire season," he said.

"There is a very new appetite, a very new expectation."

New federal bushfire legislation likely

Meeting this new expectation could require federal legislation and new agreements with state and territory governments.

The prime minister said calling out 3000 defence reservists to help with the bushfires and instructing the defence force chief to act regardless of any request from the states had taken the federal government into "extreme constitutional territory", which required clarification and discussion with the premiers.

Consideration would also be given to laws enabling a "federal state of emergency" to be declared - something that does not exist at present but would likely require a referral of powers from the states and territories.

As well, details of a royal commission would be put to the premiers and federal cabinet in coming weeks, he said.

"I think Australians have a very reasonable expectation that any commission of inquiry, royal commission, would need to cover the full gamut of issues."

Facing criticism that federal authorities sat on their hands earlier in the bushfire season, Mr Morrison said his government had acted on all recommendations put to it. 

He said the government's climate policy would continue to "evolve", including its emissions target, and adaptation and resilience measures.

With AAP

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