Leave science to scientists: Guy Barnett must release bushfire information

The Australian Greens MPs

16/09/2020

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has called on Tasmanian Minister for Resources Guy Barnett to not withhold critical information needed for bushfire research.

This data includes:

  • maps showing fire impacts
  • photo interpreted data
  • historical forest loss
  • forest change layer since logging commenced on public land in Tasmania

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “as Tasmania approaches bushfire season yet again, access to this information is critical.

“The research that desperately needs this information will help prepare us for threats facing our already-vulnerable state.

“Earlier this year, local Tasmanian scientists had to withdraw their research paper when they became aware of a categorisation error in their work – this was a demonstration of basic research integrity.

“If Tasmanian scientists have access to the data they need, they are better placed to go about the business of conducting research.

“I have also expressed my disappointment to Minister Barnett at the behaviour of his Senate colleagues on this issue.

“Their public comments point to a fundamental lack of understanding of the scientific process.

“Our science and research capacity here in Tasmania is world-renowned, so I’m not just appalled but also surprised to see our scientific community become a political target.

“To those attempting to smear the reputations of local researchers I say: how about you leave science to the scientists.

“This week we learnt from an alarming survey by the Ecological Society of Australia that scientists are under pressure to suppress their work and fear for their careers when publishing research.

“These are the people we should be backing and giving all the basic support they need.

“As this data is used to make critical decisions on how to manage public land in Tasmania, it should be publicly available.

“The data could be released tomorrow – all that is needed is Minister Barnett’s signature.”

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