Barr undecided over bushfire royal commission

Dominic Giannini 7 February 2020 50
Andrew Barr

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Photo: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed he received a letter from Prime Minister Scott Morrison requesting support for a royal commission into the bushfire crisis but has not committed his support right away.

Mr Barr says he will need to discuss the terms of reference with local authorities before making his decision.

“As the Prime Minister has requested a response by 12 February, I will take the next few days to consult with colleagues and relevant ACT Government agencies before submitting the ACT’s views on the draft terms of reference,” Mr Barr said.

Mr Morrison used his first speech of the year to federal parliament on Tuesday to call for a royal commission into the bushfires to “shine a light on what needs to be done to make our country safer and our communities more resilient”.

“Our summers are getting longer, drier and hotter, that’s what climate change does, and that requires a new responsiveness, resilience and a re-invigorated focus on adaptation,” the Prime Minister said.

“We owe it to those we have lost, we owe it to those who have fought these fires, we owe it to our children and to the land itself to learn from the lessons that are necessary.”

The royal commission would be led by former Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, and would take less than six months the Prime Minister said.

Mr Morrison has not released the terms of reference of the royal commission but it will reportedly examine climate change and a more harmonised approach to hazard reduction burns.

“It will be looking in a very focused way about how and on what trigger the Federal Government can actually, on its own initiative, put its own resources … in there on the ground,” he said earlier this week.

“We need to know better at what point we can do that in the future.

“The other thing it is going to do is look at the resilience and preparedness, which is things like hazard reduction, land clearing laws, managing native vegetation … practical things so we can get it ready for the next season.”

However, some experts have criticised the idea of a royal commission as expensive and time-consuming, touting countless bushfires commissions and inquiries that have already taken place in Australia.

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50 Responses to Barr undecided over bushfire royal commission
rationalobserver rationalobserver 9:48 am 13 Feb 20

You mean the ACT being carbon neutral by when ever won’t stop the fires at the border? Who would have thought that the ACT is a small small fish in a big big pond.

    astro2 astro2 6:07 pm 13 Feb 20

    Other fish in the pond are taking similar actions. That’s the whole point.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 9:03 am 14 Feb 20

    Some, not enough, and the whales continue to go their own way.

    astro2 astro2 5:30 pm 14 Feb 20

    If, by whales, you are referring to larger powers, the United states, China and India, you’re sadly mistaken,particularly in the case of China, which is investing in more renewable power sources than any other country. So that’s an old and already debunked theory. Try again.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 8:48 pm 14 Feb 20

    So the businesses in China that produce all our solar panels and wind turbines (and pretty much everything else sadly) have all disconnected their factories from their mains power connections have they?
    And I’m assuming you support nuclear power sources too then? like the US and India I mean.

    astro2 astro2 11:34 am 15 Feb 20

    You seem to be confused in your argument there ‘rational’. Just because a country employs other forms of energy generation it doesn’t mean they are not forging ahead in renewables technology. It may help you to read this Forbes report on renewable energy in China:
    So the old saying ‘you can walk and chew gum at the same time’ applies here. The tired ‘what about China and India? argument simply doesn’t apply. Advances in technology, science and medicine are often moved forward with cross-country cooperation. (It’s also called “progress”).

Derek Hyde Derek Hyde 11:18 am 10 Feb 20

Perhaps to provide funding to Wollongong Uni like Victoria and RFS NSW do, would be a more positive move.

grim123 grim123 10:19 am 10 Feb 20

Why wouldn’t he agree to support it if he has nothing to worry about?

    astro2 astro2 11:53 am 16 Feb 20

    Because it could be an expensive waste of time, depending on what the Terms of Reference are.

Jeannou Zoides Jeannou Zoides 9:41 am 10 Feb 20

No the PM wants to blame someone else hopefully not the very ones who warned about the fires who are experienced please don’t

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:54 am 10 Feb 20

“Perhaps we should listen to the scientists now and take action on climate change? “

But I thought the science was settled and we have declared a climate emergency in response. What else do we need to do; shake our fists in anger at the sky?

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 9:46 am 13 Feb 20

    You have just highlighted the futility of all climate change protests. Short term demands which are not backed up by longer term solutions.

Monty Ki Monty Ki 8:50 am 10 Feb 20

Perhaps we should listen to the scientists now and take action on climate change? That would be an evidence-based approach. Or we can just blame it all on a nasty, narcissistic, psychopathic, invisible god who plays with people like puppets to "test" them for loyalty. Which our PM would prefer and benefit personally and probably politically from. Personally, I'll support evidence-based approaches, because we can actually do something about this then.

Bernard Nash Bernard Nash 8:09 am 10 Feb 20

No to royal commission. Implement now

Paul South Paul South 7:34 am 10 Feb 20

Change tbe date on the 2003 report and send them that .

Paul Rutherford Paul Rutherford 11:25 pm 09 Feb 20

A scientific commission of inquiry with powers to compel politicians and industry groups with vested to answer questions on pain of imprisonment! Now that would be the way to go

Paul Rutherford Paul Rutherford 11:17 pm 09 Feb 20

Don't need a royal commission to tell us that the ADF caused the fire in the ACT.... do we need to thin out the military more frequently? 😉

Steve McGrory Steve McGrory 10:20 pm 09 Feb 20

He wants input? Funny he never listened before.

Bill Arnold Bill Arnold 9:50 pm 09 Feb 20

The fires, and the drought.

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 9:47 pm 09 Feb 20

Why a royal commission? Just engage scientists , the indigenous and fire experts to collaborate- get the politicians out of it!

stevew77 stevew77 9:40 pm 09 Feb 20

Mr Barr…just do more hazard reduction burning…no fuel =no fires. It sooooooo simple, even a rusted on lefty can get it….

Stephen Alder Stephen Alder 8:51 pm 09 Feb 20

No indecision........just do it.

Margaret Welsh Margaret Welsh 8:41 pm 09 Feb 20

NO, PLEASE NO! It’s a waste of time and money.

Shirley Hadfield Shirley Hadfield 8:35 pm 09 Feb 20

A Royal commission will be a waste of taxpayer dollars. It will turn out to be a blaming exercise. This is a smokescreen to divert the fact that we did not have leadership at a time when the country was facing a crisis.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:18 pm 09 Feb 20

“It will be looking in a very focused way about how and on what trigger the Federal Government can actually, on its own initiative, put its own resources … in there on the ground,”

The arguments on the other proposed terms of reference are fairly well known (and rehearsed), but this one is going to be entertaining – particularly the positions which will be taken by people who generally love the idea of big, centralised government, but who will see this (coming as it does, from their bete noire PM) as a cunning move by the vast, right-wing conspiracy……

Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 8:08 pm 09 Feb 20

There have been multiple reviews, commissions and reviews of bushfires over the years.

If the PM is serious about a solution, he will establish a wide ranging literature review of past studies.


If the PM just wants to use a review/Royal Commission/whatever to just kick a solution down the road with a report after most folks have forgotten the recent crisis. Then it will be filed with the PM’s former Chief of Staff’s (aka Sec of PM&C) recent report.

How good are Royal Commissions?

Anna Francesca Clancy Anna Francesca Clancy 8:04 pm 09 Feb 20

I would prefer to see money spent on the development of a bipartisan bushfire prevention, environmentally sustainable social and economic plan for Australia. A plan informed by expert and scientific advice which increases our independence and self sufficiency of food, water, land, utilitiesand protects our valuable resources from ongoing domestic and international exploitation and waste. A plan Which is focussed especially our forests, rivers, water sources, nAtive wildlife and plants. A master plan that values planetary wellbeing over gonzo capitalism and profits, that are now only serving to increase poverty, exploitation and social inequality. We need a new socioeconomic political system attuned to regenerative farming, sustainable housing and industry, renewable resources etc NOt one that just encourages us all to go out and spend money on things we don’t need & contribute to unnecessary environmental degradation. The govt needs to be protecting and promoting health and happiness and security of humans and the natural environment not its destruction.

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