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.