Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Independent NSW Inquiry report on 2019-20 bushfires released

The NSW Government has released the independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry, which examined the causes, preparation and response to the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

All 76 recommendations will be accepted in principle, with further work to be done on specific timelines to give communities assurance that changes will be made to keep them safe.

Any issues not covered in the report that are still relevant to the protection of property and life will also be further examined.

Resilience NSW, led by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, has been tasked with coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the Inquiry’s recommendations as the Government finalises its approach.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked former NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens and Professor Mary O’Kane AC for their hard work on this Report.

“The NSW Government has worked in lock-step with the RFS and Resilience NSW to ensure the State is as prepared as it can be to face the next fire season, but the learnings from this Inquiry will help us further improve our preparedness and response,” said Ms Berejiklian.

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“The NSW Government has already delivered more than $45 million in additional funding, announced in May, to fast-track hazard reduction and deliver upgrades to our firefighting capability.

“This was a terrible bushfire season and we will look at all the steps we can take, especially in relation to helping people protect their property.”

The findings of the Report show that there is an opportunity to strengthen governance and responsibility, which we are in the process of addressing.

The Report also acknowledges the significant contribution of both climate change and the vast expanse of the State’s bushland towards these devastating fires.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said all 76 recommendations in the Inquiry are based on the harsh lessons learnt from the catastrophic bushfires of last summer.

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“Last bushfire season was unlike anything we have ever dealt with before and we need a Government response to match,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Things like strategic hazard reduction and better land management no matter the tenure are essential when it comes to keeping our communities safe.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said NSW is more prepared than ever before for the 2020-21 fire season.

“We have already begun implementing the Inquiry’s recommendation to replace and retrofit the fleet, with 120 new trucks and 70 refurbished trucks to be rolled out before the end of the financial year,” Mr Elliott said.

“I would like to thank all our emergency personnel and volunteers who made us all proud over this relentless bushfire season.”

A link to the Report can be found here: dpc.nsw.gov.au/nsw-bushfire-inquiry

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