Bushfires royal commission gets underway

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Megan Neil
(Australian Associated Press)

 

THE NATIONAL ROYAL COMMISSION INTO AUSTRALIA’S UNPRECEDENTED BUSHFIRES GETS UNDERWAY

WHAT IS IT?

* The official name is the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

* The six-month inquiry has to deliver a final report by August 31, so recommendations can be acted on before the next bushfire season.

* It is being led by retired defence force chief Mark Binskin, assisted by former Federal Court judge Dr Annabelle Bennett and climate expert Professor Andrew Macintosh.

* The three commissioners met with fire-affected communities in South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia during March.

* The royal commission is holding an online ceremonial sitting on Thursday with further hearings to be held and conducted in line with coronavirus restrictions.

* Independent inquiries into the bushfires are also underway in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

WHAT IS THE ROYAL COMMISSION LOOKING AT?

* It will examine how Australia is prepared for and coordinated across the Commonwealth, states and territories to respond to bushfires and other natural disasters, as well as mitigation and recovery.

It will focus on:

* Australia’s national natural disaster arrangements.

* Improving natural disaster management coordination and responses across all levels of government.

* Improving Australia’s resilience and adaptation to climate change, and what can be done to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters.

* The legal framework for the Commonwealth’s involvement in responding to national emergencies, including new powers for it to declare a national state of emergency to trigger action such as the deployment of the Australian Defence Force.

THE TOLL OF AUSTRALIA’S ‘BLACK SUMMER’ BUSHFIRES:

* 33 deaths.

* More than 3000 homes.

* 12 million hectares of land burnt, although some estimates put it at 17 million hectares.

* 7000 facilities and outbuildings.

* millions of native animals and plants.

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