In a lengthy Facebook post, Mr Kelly said a failure to act and establish a civil defence corps (CDC) that would operate as a national disaster response reserve would be the “most serious dereliction of duty in our history”.
“The current model of response will not be adequate or sustainable to deal with this,” Mr Kelly wrote, referring to 2030 projections made by the Climate Council.
Mr Kelly is the member for the New South Wales electorate of Eden-Monaro, where destructive fires continue to burn in huge parts of the NSW south coast and Snowy Mountains.
He proposed that if the CDC wasn’t effective, high school leavers should undertake a compulsory 12 months of civil service to tackle future disasters.
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“As I have visited the many RFS stations around Eden-Monaro, I have been particularly struck by the ageing of the volunteers,” the post read.
“The bottom line is we need younger people getting on board along with much higher numbers generally.”
Mr Kelly said the other option could be a “Gap Year” system, offering individual HECS or VET fees for members.
“If this doesn’t deliver the response required we may need to prepare for the idea of reinstituting a non-military National Service scheme,” he wrote.
“This would require all High School graduates to be absorbed into the CDC on leaving school for perhaps a one-year period, after which they would be required to render service as required and attend refresher training annually up until the age of 40, after which continuing service would be voluntary.”
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Mr Kelly suggested that members of the CDC receive a tax-free daily income, and “should encompass all existing volunteer organisations and would be a national resource that could be mobilised for any disaster”.
While his proposal could be seen as “controversial”, the MP wanted to trigger a national discussion that generated new ideas to deal with the climate change threat.
“In any event the climate change projections we are looking at may leave no other choice, and we must talk about this,” he wrote.
“I believe the concepts I am presenting could be a valuable and rewarding experience for the young Australians involved and serve many other outcomes that would be of benefit to our nation.”
Until the creation of the proposed CDC, Mr Kelly warned, the Australian Defence Force would still be required at the current scale, but “much more efficiently and quickly than has happened”.
Mr Kelly’s proposal comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled he’s willing to sacrifice a federal budget surplus in response to the bushfire crisis gripping the country.
The PM said the surplus was “no focus” of his and emphasised he’d meet whatever cost necessary to help Australians get “back on their feet”.
– with AAP