Govt will act quickly on disasters report

Tim Dornin
·2-min read

The federal government will bring Australia's emergency service ministers together to respond "as quickly as we can" to a raft of recommendations from the royal commission sparked by last summer's devastating bushfires.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the Commonwealth intended to work collaboratively with the states in response to the commission's 80 proposals.

Fourteen of those are directed to the federal government, 23 to the states and territories, 41 are shared between the jurisdictions, and two are specifically focused on the insurance industry and the Australian Building Code board.

"The government does not intend to take a backward step on this. We intend to address these recommendations as quickly as we can," Mr Littleproud said.

"The royal commission report outlines lessons for us all on how to better prepare for, manage and recover from natural disasters.

"There are lessons for governments, essential service providers, insurers, charities, communities and individuals."

Last summer's fires burned through 10 million hectares, claiming 33 lives and destroyed 10,000 homes and other structures.

More than 80,000 head of livestock were killed and millions of native plants and animals were lost.

In its recommendations, the commission called for the federal government to have the power to declare a national emergency during natural disasters as part of a more co-ordinated approach to managing developing events.

It also called for Australia to have its own aerial firefighting fleet and introduce more consistent warnings and fire danger ratings across the country.

Amid fears fires, floods and other events will become more complex, more unpredictable and more difficult to manage because of climate change, the commission proposed a "whole of nation" response.

Governments at all levels should be engaged, along with Indigenous and other communities, to ensure effective disaster management, action and recovery.

"This does not mean that the Australian government should take over from state and territory governments," the commission said in its report released on Friday.

"Rather, it means that we need whole-of-nation, whole-of-government and whole-of-society co-operation and effort."

The report has already prompted Fundraising Institute Australia to release new guidelines for fundraising during natural disasters.

The guidelines call on its members to be accountable to donors, honest and accurate in their fundraising communications, to be extra mindful of people in vulnerable circumstances, and to report back as soon as possible to donors on the impact of their donations.

In its report, the royal commission recommended the federal, state and territory governments create a single scheme for the regulation of charitable fundraising.