No climate rift in NSW coalition: minister

Matt Kean says there's no rift in the NSW Liberals on the link between climate change and bushfires.
Matt Kean says there's no rift in the NSW Liberals on the link between climate change and bushfires.

Despite showing a far greater willingness than some of his colleagues to discuss the link between climate change and NSW's catastrophic bushfires, state environment minister Matt Kean insists there is no party rift on the issue.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week said it was "inappropriate" to discuss climate change while the bushfires, which since Friday have destroyed more than 250 homes and killed four people, raged.

But Mr Kean was happy to discuss the issue on Friday.

"The science is in," Mr Kean told reporters in Sydney.

"Climate change is real, and all the evidence suggests climate change is seeing more extreme weather events happen - that's leading to things like more bushfires. So we need to take decisive and responsible action to deal with the issue of climate change."

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott on Thursday deflected a question in parliament about the link between bushfires and climate change.

"I'm going to treat that question with the contempt it deserves," Mr Elliott said, asking why the welfare of emergency workers wasn't raised instead.

But Mr Kean denied there was any internal coalition clash on the link between climate change and bushfire intensity.

"The reality is there are still 59 fires burning across NSW, 35 of those fires are still out of control," he said.

"We've got men and women on the frontline so there will be plenty of time later for a political debate about who's to blame and what we should have done better.

"Right now, it's about focusing on keeping people safe. We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can in the environment portfolio to support our national parks and wildlife staff who are on the frontline."

Mr Kean's remarks follow pleas from mayors of bushfire-ravaged Australian regions for the acknowledgement of climate change's impact on bushfires.

Mayors from 12 councils, including the fire-affected Bellingen and Mid-Coast regions, have signed a statement urging the government to stop ignoring climate change and boost funding to frontline emergency services.

A coalition of former Australian fire chiefs on Thursday also urged the federal government to declare a climate emergency.

"Climate change is the key reason why fire seasons are lengthening, fires are harder to control, and access to international firefighting resources like large aircraft is becoming more difficult," former Fire and Rescue NSW head Greg Mullins told reporters.

Australian Associated Press