Australia — TASMANIA is preparing for a second wave of research into bushfires and natural disasters, while a report into the devastating January bushfires is due to be released next week.
The head of the new Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Council was in Tasmania yesterday to brief the Tasmanian Fire Service and other government departments on the first stage of its eight-year research plan.
Chief executive Richard Thornton said natural disasters already cost Australia more than $6 billion a year, and that was expected to climb to $28 billion by 2050.
Dr Thornton said the organisation, which replaced the Bushfire Co-operative Research Council, would look at disaster prevention and management as well as how to make communities more resilient to disaster.
It would also focus on better communication strategies and the impact of new forms of emergency response, such as the Tassie Fires – We Can Help Facebook page that helped co-ordinate resources to the Tasman Peninsula.
The state government has committed more than $200,000 a year plus in-kind support over eight years, contributing to a national budget of $130 million.
Emergency Management Minister David O’Byrne said the research was essential to help government and emergency services prepare for and respond to disasters.
Mr O’Byrne said a “warts and all” report into the January bushfires was expected to go before cabinet on Monday and would be released, at this stage in full, soon after.
Tasmania Fire Service chief officer Mike Brown said it was too early to say how bad this bushfire season would be, but said the state was heading for a fuel-heavy warm, wet spring.