Anthony Albanese has shut down a reporter who asked whether the prime minister could “guarantee” Australia would not face a horror bushfire season this summer.
Speaking to reporters in Ulladulla on Tuesday, Mr Albanese knocked back a question asking for assurance that the upcoming summer would not be as destructive as the 2019 bushfire season.
“The horrific scenes from Europe are really triggering for people on the South Coast. What guarantee can you give to this community that they won’t see a Black Summer this season?” the reporter asked.
“I think the community is sensible enough to know that that question is, quite frankly, asking me to defy science,” Mr Albanese replied.
“No politician who’s serious, will stand and say that they will guarantee there will never be a natural disaster.”
Despite Mr Albanese’s attempt to move on the reporter continued to question him about his predictions for the upcoming bushfire season.
“I cannot answer, with respect… you’re saying what will this summer look like?”
The 2019 Black Summer saw up to 24 million hectares of land burnt by fires, 3000 homes destroyed, three billion animals killed or displaced and 33 people dead.
Experts have warned Australia should prepare itself for a scorching fire season, with an El Nino alert meaning conditions are drying up.
“So compared to the last three years, where we had the opposite of an El Nino or La Nina event in the Pacific, and quite heavy rainfall over Australia, we’re now looking at a summer of below average rainfall and possibly heatwaves and bushfires,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Karl Braganza said.
The conditions may not be as bad as the 2019 fires, but former Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner and Councillor with the Climate Council Greg Mullins argues that “we’re set for a bad year”.
“I’m not a betting man, but if I was a betting man, I’d say we’re going to get big fires this year,” he told the Climate Council’s El Nino media briefing.
“Not like Black Summer but we will have days, perhaps a number of days in a row, periodically, where we lose homes.”