Prime Minister Julia Gillard underscored the dangers facing Australia this summer from climate change as she saw Tasmanian bushfire ruins, and warned people to expect more.
Ms Gillard said New South Wales faced potentially catastrophic conditions on Tuesday, and the crisis was not over in Tasmania.
While the south-east fires that devastated Dunalley were easing, the island faced a new emergency warning in north-west dairy country near Mawbanna, where a fast-running fire threatened the community.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard inspects ashes she picked up from the ruins of The Dunalley Primary which was destroyed by the bushfire that swept through the Tasmanian community on Friday night. Photo: Peter Mathew
Ms Gillard said extreme bushfires were part of life in a hot and dry country.
"And while you would not put any one event down to climate change … we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events," she said.
Walking through the remains of the Dunalley primary school, she said people in NSW needed to be prepared for scorching temperatures, with some fires already burning.
"Everyone can remember what their school was like, how they saw their kids grow. This is a devastating scene," she said of the twisted roofing iron and scorched earth.
"But the worst thing is if human lives are lost."