Australia launches nat’l inquiry into bushfires | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:24 AM, February 21, 2020

Australia launches nat’l inquiry into bushfires

Australia set up a national inquiry Thursday into its month-long bushfire crisis that affected three in four Australians and prompted widespread criticism of the government for its sluggish response to the blazes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vast scale of the fires -- which killed more than 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes -- required a new response from the bushfire-prone nation.

The Royal Commission inquiry will be tasked with finding ways to improve Australia's preparedness, resilience and response to natural disasters, but has been criticised as an effort to put off tackling the problem.

Australia has seen dozens of inquests into the causes of bushfires and steps that could be taken to mitigate them, with mixed results.

Many measures from the dozens of inquests going back to the 1930s have still not been implemented.

The opposition Labor party accused Morrison of trying to "shift attention to the things that he thinks are politically convenient to talk about" rather than "actually fixing climate change and getting emissions under control."

Morrison said panel would be asked to consider establishing new powers for the federal government to declare a national state of emergency, which he argued would allow a faster response to fires.

The conservative leader, who was criticised for his sluggish reaction to the months-long crisis, has defended his actions by pointing to regulations requiring states to formally request federal assistance.

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