Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison on Sunday expressed regret over his handling of the bushfire crisis ravaging the country.
The PM faced mounting criticism over his government’s response to the bushfires and its climate policy, reports BBC online.
Since September, bushfires killed at least 28 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
On Sunday, Morrison conceded there were ‘things I could have handled on the ground much better’.
In recent weeks, Morrison had been heckled by locals when visiting fire-hit communities in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, where the worst blazes were concentrated.
An Australian firefighter has become the latest victim of the months-long bushfire crisis, with authorities saying Sunday that the 60-year-old man died fighting a blaze in the country’s south, reports AFP.
Chris Hardman, chief fire officer at Forest Fire Management Victoria, said a firefighter from Parks Victoria was ‘involved in an incident while working on a fire in the Omeo area resulting in a fatality’.
It is believed he was struck by a tree.
The death raised the toll from Australia’s bushfires to at least 27, even as firefighters took advantage of cooler conditions to conduct backburning and strengthen containment lines.
Also Sunday, prime minister Scott Morrison said his government would consider opening a commission of inquiry into the blazes, amid sustained criticism of his handling of the crisis.
‘I think that is what would be necessary, and I will be taking a proposal through Cabinet to that end,’ he told public broadcaster ABC.
Morrison acknowledged a groundswell of anger about the climate-fuelled fires, which have burned an area the size of South Korea and again shrouded Sydney in smoke Sunday.
The prime minister - a staunch supporter of fossil fuel industries - said emissions targets would ‘evolve’ but ruled out curbing Australia’s vast exports of coal.
‘In the years ahead, we are going to continue to evolve our policy in this area to reduce emissions even further and we are going to do it without a carbon tax, without putting up electricity prices and without shutting down traditional industries,’ he said.
Authorities have warned that while the blazes are set to ease this week, the crisis is far from over.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Oceania