NEWS
13/11/2019 8:48 AM AEDT

NSW Bushfires: Couple Tips Ashes Of Their Home On Parliament House

The couple is angry at the government’s inaction on climate change.

As fires raged across NSW on Tuesday, a couple who fled the devastating blaze tipped some of the charred remnants of their house on the steps of parliament, angry at the government’s inaction on climate change.  

Aaron Crowe, 38, who lost his two-bedroom home in Warrawillah, joined hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney demanding more firefighting resources and policy to address the ecological emergency. 

“In this bucket is my house,” he told the crowd.

“I realised how futile it is,” Crowe said. “But I feel like coming here and talking about this and about how unprepared Australia is for the coming summer – it’s the least I can do.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday now is not the time to talk about the effects of climate change. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday now is not the time to talk about the effects of climate change. 

“We just want everyone to focus on protecting life and property and of course we’ll have those discussions,” Berekilian said a press conference. 

“But when you face people who are protesting I often say to them ‘Well, why don’t you help out people who have just lost everything?’” 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a vocal supporter of Australia’s coal industry, has declined to answer questions about whether the current fires were a result of climate change.

“The government says this isn’t the time to talk about climate change - I completely disagree, we should have been talking about this years ago,” said Carol Sparks, mayor of Glen Innes, north of Sydney, where two people died at the weekend.

“We are overwhelmed with the intensity of this fire and climate change is responsible.”

Dan Peled/via REUTERS
A fire truck is seen near a bushfire in Nana Glen.

As authorities fear they will be unable to control the fires until next week, an aircraft was diverted to drop fire retardants on bushfires threatening homes in Sydney’s northern suburbs. Television footage showed some of the substance overshot the blaze, colouring houses and vehicles pink and red.

Officials were responding to 11 emergency warnings in NSW by evening as around half the 70 fires across the state burned uncontrolled in conditions termed “catastrophic”.

“We’ve got a long way to go yet before we can say we’re comfortable with the state of the fires,” NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters.

While conditions are expected to ease on Wednesday, he said a forecast for severe weather into the weekend and another burst of hot air next week means “we simply aren’t going to get the upper hand on all of these fires”.

AFP via Getty Images
Rural NSW Fire Service plane drops fire retardent on an out of control bushfire near Taree, 350km north of Sydney.
Sam Mooy/Getty Images
A resident walks infront of South Turramurra homes which were bombed by fire-retardant during NSW RFS firefighting efforts in Sydney.

Blazes have been spurred by extremely dry conditions after three years of drought in parts of NSW and Queensland, which experts say has been exacerbated by climate change.

The current outbreak, which killed three people, has been fanned by an unprecedented combination of high temperatures and strong winds. The bushfires have consumed more than a million hectares of land and damaged or destroyed 12 more homes on Tuesday, taking the toll to at least 150 so far. 

Around 600 schools and colleges were closed across the state. NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said nine public schools across the state’s north were evacuated.

Colin Packham and Swati Pandey contributed to this report.