7 February 2020

Barr undecided over bushfire royal commission

| Dominic Giannini
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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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rationalobserver9:48 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.

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

rationalobserver9:03 am 14 Feb 20

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

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.

rationalobserver8:48 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.

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: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2019/01/11/china-renewable-energy-superpower/#a502433745a2
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”).

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

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

Capital Retro8:54 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?

rationalobserver9:46 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.

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

HiddenDragon8:18 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……

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