Australia — The State Government has agreed to a Parliamentary inquiry into the bushfire-marred Kimberley ultramarathon today after the brother of a 36-year-old burns victim took his fight for answers to the steps of Parliament.
Ian Sanderson made an emotional plea for an official inquiry on behalf of his sister Kate, who spent 40 days in an induced coma and endured 15 operations including skin grafts and the partial amputation of a foot and fingers.
The life-threatening injuries to Ms Sanderson and another runner, Turia Pitt, occurred on September 2 when the women cowered in a gorge as a bushfire, which had been burning for five days, swept through the race course.
The State Government had previously claimed it had no mechanism to hold an inquiry because it was a privately-run race on private land.
The stance was criticised by the Opposition and victims who argued the State had an obligation to investigate because the race received Tourism WA sponsorship.
“Surely those whose lives have been devastated by this disaster have a right to know how and why they were put in harms way and nearly perished while taking part in a Government-sponsored and promoted event,” Mr Sanderson said.
Shadow tourism minister Michelle Roberts shed tears as she showed media harrowing photographs of the injuries sustained by Ms Sanderson, who she had personally visited in Melbournes Alfred Hospital.
Late today, after the Opposition pushed the matter in Parliament as a matter of public interest, Premier Colin Barnett agreed to refer it to a Parliamentary committee in coming weeks.
Mr Sanderson said his sister had recently been discharged from hospital after six months, but her road to recovery was far from over.
“This does not mean she’s out of the woods, not by a long shot,” he said.
“But at least for the first time she’ll be able to sleep in her own bed after nearly six months.