One year on: Royal Commission recommendations left burning

28.10.21 By

EXACTLY ONE YEAR after the Bushfire Royal Commission released its final report, it’s clear that the federal government has dropped the ball on delivering the Commission’s urgent recommendations.

The Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements report, responding to the horrific 2019/20 fire season, outlined 80 recommendations, with more than half requiring action from the federal government. 

Yet 12 months to the day after the Commission handed down its findings, the federal government is dragging its feet. It promised monthly updates, but these stopped in June. Some of the Commission’s most urgent recommendations, like boosting firefighting capability, wildlife protection and community education, still require urgent action

Greg Mullins, former Commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW, Climate Councillor and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA): “Those of us that hold hoses and are in the direct firing line of climate change impacts are still waiting for the government to show that it is taking the Royal Commission’s report seriously.” 

“The federal government has completely dropped the ball on addressing the Commission’s recommendations. To protect Australians, the government must now enact the steps outlined in the recommendations without further delay,” he said. 

“They must also tackle the root causes of worsening bushfires and other extreme weather, by committing to much stronger emissions reductions this decade while moving rapidly away from coal, oil and gas,” he said. 

“No more excuses. As the world gathers for COP26 in Glasgow, we must commit to shifting to a clean, resilient economy. We can’t wait for another Black Summer to be on our doorstep before we act,” said Mr Mullins, one of Australia’s longest serving fire chiefs and a serving volunteer firefighter.

Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie: “Emissions must plummet this decade to tackle the root cause of extreme fires, climate change. The Royal Commission showed that climate change is fuelling longer, hotter and more dangerous bushfire seasons and other extreme weather events.”

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s commitment to net zero is meaningless without policies to cut emissions this decade. Even with this newly announced target, Australia remains in dead last position on climate when compared to other developed nations,” she said. 

“We are the sunniest and one of the windiest countries in the world. The Morrison government needs to spend more time cashing in on Australia’s renewable advantage, and less time approving and funding new polluting and unnecessary fossil fuel developments,” said Ms McKenzie.   

Former Deputy Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) member, Jim Smith: “As an active RFS volunteer on the South Coast of NSW we don’t think much has changed since the fires of 2019/20; not much seems to have been done and we don’t feel any safer than we did before.” 

“Many people are living in fear of the next fire. Without emissions reductions this decade it’s just going to keep getting worse. At the very least every recommendation of the Royal Commission should be implemented,” said Mr Smith.

The Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) recommend Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. As a first step, Australia must at least match the updated commitments from our key allies, and pledge before Glasgow to at least halve our emissions (below 2005 levels) by 2030.

For interviews please contact Hannah Izzard on 0475 247 754 and Annemarie Jonson on 0428 278 880  

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au

Or follow us on social media: facebook.com/climatecouncil and twitter.com/climatecouncil