National unity needed on disaster reform
20 September 2020
Published by https://au.news.yahoo.com/
AUSTRALIA – State governments and key bushfire stakeholders have been urged to show unity on national natural disaster reform as a royal commission draws to a close.
The final hearing week of the royal commission into bushfires kicked off on Monday with detailed responses to the inquiry’s interim observations.
It has floated a single standing national body responsible for natural disaster recovery and resilience.
Senior counsel assisting Dominique Hogan-Doran outlined state and territory government reaction to the 44 pages of the commission’s proposals.
“Truly national natural disaster arrangements require unity, not just of commitment or purpose, but of action,” she told the hearing.
Ms Hogan-Doran said the commissioners’ final report would be vital to shaping areas for improvement around natural disasters.
“While proponents share a commitment to improvements, some continue to take a narrow self-focused view when it comes to meaningful action,” Ms Hogan-Doran told the hearing.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Together everyone achieves more.
“Going forward and in this final week of hearings, let us hope all stakeholders will choose to be an active and constructive part of the whole rather than remaining disparate, disconnected parts.”
A central body would be responsible for Commonwealth recovery co-ordination, prioritisation, policy and collation of data through improved use of technology.
The inquiry is also considering how best to be able to declare a “national emergency” that has a more than symbolic role.
Clearing up lines of communication between the Australian Defence Force and the states and territories, as well as overcoming legal hurdles, is also expected to be high on the list of recommendations.
Wildlife management, mental health, disaster recovery funding arrangements, land management, aerial firefighting and the use of emergency warning apps are also under consideration.
Senior CSIRO scientists will appear before the hearing on Tuesday along with bosses of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Witnesses from natural hazards research centre Risk Frontiers, Insurance Australia Group and Ethical Intelligence are also listed to give evidence.
At the end of the week the royal commission will adjourn to finalise its report, which will be presented to Governor-General David Hurley by October 28.
Fires that raged across 10 million hectares last summer killed 33 Australians and destroyed 10,000 homes and other structures.
More than 80,000 head of livestock were destroyed and millions of native plants and animals were lost.