PM forced to respond to ‘vile’ comments
SCOTT Morrison has urged politicians to end the bickering over the link between climate change and natural disasters as bushfires burn out of control across Australia.
The prime minister said provocative comments made on "all sides" of the debate were ultimately meaningless to the people losing their homes.
There are dozens out-of-control bushfires burning across NSW and Queensland, and more than 150 houses have been destroyed.
The Greens blamed the bushfires on the Morrison government's climate change policy, which triggered fierce debate from politicians on Tuesday.
Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce caused an uproar when he suggested two people who died in NSW bushfires "most likely" voted for the Greens.
The comments earned a scathing review from Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally, while Greens senator Larissa Waters called them "vile" during Question Time.
Liberal senator Mathias Cormann, responding on behalf of the prime minister, admitted the comments were inappropriate.
Mr Joyce, the former deputy prime minister, also attacked Greens MP Adam Bandt for demanding an end to coal production.
Greens senator Jordon Steele-John branded major party politicians "arsonists" and said they should be ashamed.
"Your selfishness and your ignorance have known no bounds for decades, and now our communities are paying the price," he said.
Mr Morrison said there would be time later to debate "controversial issues", but emphasised he was currently focused on assisting those on the ground. Visiting a crisis co-ordination centre in Canberra on Tuesday, Mr Morrison said people didn't need to hear politicians "shouting" at each.
"I think it's important that at moments like this, everybody take it down a few notches," Mr Morrison said.
"What matters is people who are in need and ensuring the operational support is there for the services they need to ensure that we can address this crisis. "There is a time and a place to debate controversial issues and important issues, right now it's important to focus on the needs of Australians who need our help."