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Pacific gives support in Australia climate crisis

Wednesday 8 January 2020 | Published in Regional

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Pacific gives support in Australia climate crisis
A military helicopter flies above a burning woodchip mill in New South Wales. AFP 20010721

Pacific Islands Forum leaders, who argued with Australia’s prime minister at the Forum summit last year, have now extended the hand of friendship in that country’s time of need.

Kausea Natano, the new Prime Minister of Tuvalu, encouraged Pacific peoples to generously support Australian charities thart are battling the bushfires and supporting those caught in them.

He commended the work of the Red Cross, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Victoria‘s Country Fire Authority.

“I am deeply saddened to see the ongoing devastation brought on by the bushfires in Australia – destroying livelihoods, ecosystems, homes and costing lives across Australia,” Natano said yesterday.

“On behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, our thoughts and prayers are with Australia and every Australian citizen and resident at this difficult time. My deepest condolences, especially, to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives.”

Natano’s predecessor, Enele Sopoaga, led criticism of Prime Minister Scott Morrison for disregarding the impact of climate change and rising seas on Pacific Island nations. Morrison rejected Forum calls to stop burning coal to generate electricity.

“You are concerned about saving your economy in Australia,” the Tuvalu prime minister told Morrison at the time. “I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu.'

But now, the climate change tables are turned and Pacific nations led by Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea have donated aid money to help Australia fight its fires.

“I also recognise and commend the ongoing courage of the firefighters who continue to risk their lives to save others during this time,” Natano said. “The Pacific Islands Forum stands ready to collectively support Australia as best as we can.”

He encouraged Pacific Islanders to donate:
* fundraise.redcross.org.au /drr
* www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/about-us/fundraising
* www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa#donate-cfa