Australia suspended parliament Tuesday to honor the victims of a national bushfire disaster that has killed 33 people, as over 100 fires continued ablaze throughout the nation’s east coast.
PM Scott Morrison, who has acquired public criticism for his handling of the crisis, led a tribute as lawmakers returned to parliament for the first time after the long summer holiday.
Morrison said he has ordered to state and territory batons to begin discussions on the phrases of reference for a so-referred to as Royal Commission review into the official response to the disaster, along with the deployment of emergency providers, the role of the federal authorities, and the impact of climate change.
Morrison was compelled into a rare public apology in December after he went on vacation to Hawaii as the fires intensified. His government’s position on climate change, in addition to its help for the coal trade, has drawn international criticism.
Fires burning since September have slaughtered about 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) across Australia’s most populated states. The blazes have destroyed around 2,500 homes, killed an estimated 1 billion native animals, and endangered the habitats of many more.
The government said none of the fires at the moment burning posed an immediate hazard, because of colder weather.