Bushfire survivors still waiting for action
One hundred days after the Bushfire Royal Commission handed down its findings, bushfire survivors are still waiting on the federal government to take clear, decisive action on all recommendations.
“It has been 100 days since our members travelled to Canberra to hear the Commission’s findings first hand, we’re still waiting for all recommendations to be taken seriously,” said Jo Dodds, the president of the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA).
“The government has only ‘noted’ or announced its ‘in principle’ support for many recommendations. Bushfire survivors, emergency workers and volunteers deserve clear answers, detailed timelines and transparent budgets for every recommendation, as has been the case with previous Royal Commissions.
“We’re calling on the federal government to immediately accept all recommendations and take responsibility for their implementation. What is happening in Perth shows just how critical immediate action is,” said Ms Dodds.
In particular, BSCA is calling for clarity on Recommendation 4.5: “Australian, state and territory governments should produce downscaled climate projections.”
The federal government supports this recommendation in principle, but is yet to provide full detail as to how it would be implemented.
“As fires become hotter, fiercer and more frequent due to climate change, projections will be crucial for the way communities manage fire risks,” said Fiona Lee, who lost her Warrawillah home in the 2019/20 fires.
“The Royal Commission is clear that climate change is contributing to more frequent fires, and we can expect more in the future. And yet, the Federal Government is unclear on its response to this critical recommendation, and is dragging its feet on reducing emissions at the scale and pace required by the science.
“Communities won’t have peace of mind until we fully understand the risk, and there is a firm target for reaching net zero emissions well before 2040,” said Ms Lee.
“A hundred days after the Federal Government received the Royal Commission’s recommendations, Australians are still waiting for the Government to show that it is taking the report seriously,” said Greg Mullins, former Commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA).
“The Federal Government’s ‘accountability document’ is welcomed, however its response shows that many recommendations are only supported “in principle” or have merely been “noted”.
“Particularly worrying is the Federal Government’s apparent rejection of a strong recommendation to develop a local aerial firefighting capability due to longer fire seasons worldwide reducing access to large aircraft at times that we need them most in Australia.
“The Federal Government must clarify whether it accepts all the recommendations it is responsible for, and commit to the urgent climate action that is needed to tackle the root cause of Australia’s worsening extreme weather and bushfire crisis,” said Mr Mullins.
Peter Dunn, former Commissioner of ACT Emergency Services Authority, added: “The Royal Commission’s final report explained in detail how climate change fuelled Australia’s longest, most destructive fire season, but the government has all but ignored this critical advice.
“The science says that Australia must get to net zero emissions well before 2040, but the government still refuses to commit to a net zero target, which every state and territory has already done, along with countries that buy more than 70 per cent of Australia’s fossil fuel exports.
“From the Black Summer fires that ravaged the east coast last year to the fires raging in the Perth Hills right now, bushfire survivors, emergency service workers and volunteers are living the consequences of accelerating climate change.
“ELCA will continue to ask critical questions about how the Federal Government proposes to improve bushfire response and work toward a safer climate,” said Mr Dunn.
Should the government commit to implementing all of the recommendations from the bushfire royal commission?