Australia — The Federal Government will take a lead role in setting up an early warning system to mitigate the risk of more disasters like that inflicted by the Victorian bushfires.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the establishment of an early warning system is at the forefront of plans to better prepare communities.
Ms Gillard conceded plans for such a system had languished for several years, despite previous inquiries into other bushfires having recommended one be established.
“When the Rudd Labor government was elected in 2007 … it had been languishing around for several years, and the Prime Minister pushed it forward,” Ms Gillard told the Nine Network.
“I can’t answer for everything in the past. What I can do is tell you about our determination for a different future.”
Ms Gillard said the Government was aware it needed to act quickly and decisively to mitigate future risk of bushfires.
“Work is already in train, legislation needs to be changed and legislation is being brought to the parliament,” she said.
“There are some technical issues here which still are being worked through about how it can give warning to everybody in the affected area.”
“We’re bringing a spirit of determination to getting this done.”
The Victorian Government has been criticised in the wake of the carnage wrought on various areas of the state for not doing enough to reduce the bushfire risk, including neglecting the need for fuel reduction and better development regulations.
Other state and territory governments have also been criticised for failing to reduce the risk of bushfires.
Ms Gillard said the Federal Government will consider taking a bigger role to mitigate the risk of future disasters.
“I think all of that is going to be on the table for examination by the royal commission that has been announced by the Victorian Government,” she said.
“I expect that it will canvas matters like the planning scheme, back-burning, clearing vegetation around homes, communication systems, the whole lot.”
But Ms Gillard stopped short of blaming state authorities for failing to take appropriate steps to reduce bushfire risk.
“This is not about laying blame at anybody’s feet, it’s about bringing the community together after this inferno has destroyed so many lives and so many homes.”
The Federal Government would work in partnership with the Victorian Government to help communities affected by the bushfires rebuild their lives, Ms Gillard said.