Australia bush-fires: PM Morrison proposes high-powered investigation

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The Australia Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has propose a national review into the response to the fire disaster, as the it has claimed another firefighter’s life After weeks of criticism over the handling of the bush-fires.

The Australian bush has been burning for nearly three months and the fires have killed 28 people, claimed 2,000 homes and consumed millions of acres of land and wildlife. The crisis is becoming increasingly political as the country looks at the causes and the government’s response.

“There is obviously a need for a national review of the response,” Morrison said in an interview with ABC television.

Asked whether it should be a Royal Commission, a powerful judicial inquiry, Morrison said, “I think that is what would be necessary and I will be taking a proposal through the cabinet to that end, but it must be done with consultations with the states and territories.”

Morrison said that the inquiry would examine the response to the crisis, including the deployment of emergency services to battle the fires at a state and local level, the role of the federal government, and the impact of climate change.

Bushfires are common during Australia’s summer months, but this fire season started unusually early, often moving quickly and unpredictably, and leaving swaths of the drought-stricken land a scorched earth.

Cooler weather conditions over the weekend have brought a temporary respite, but a firefighter died on duty in Victoria, where new flames sparked. Authorities said the risk was far from over and more hot weather is expected.

Smoke again sheathed Sydney on Sunday, almost a new normal for the country’s biggest city, moving the air quality into hazardous territory, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industry index.

Facing increasing pressure to do more to tackle climate change, Morrison, who has so far been defiant in rejecting any links between his government’s conservative climate policies and the bushfires, said his government will look into improving its performance on curbing emissions.

“We want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better and better at it,” he said. “I want to do that with a balanced policy which recognizes Australia’s broader national economic interests and social interest.”

 

Zainab Sa’id

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