Bushfire royal commission says governments need to coordinate for ‘more intense’ natural disasters

Different levels of government need to better coordinate to deal with the “more frequent and intense” natural disasters Australia is likely to face over coming decades, the bushfire royal commission says.

The commission has published its interim report, which says the last fire season demonstrated challenges with coordinating resources across the country.

According to the report, the National Cabinet approach that has been established to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic could also be used to manage natural disasters.

The report said while the conditions leading up to the 2019-20 bushfires were without precedent, they are no longer unprecedented, and that Australia needs to be prepared for further severe natural disasters.

The report does not include any recommendations, which will be provided when the final report is handed down at the end of October.

A firefighter with a can conducts backburning- he is a silhouette as a bushfire burns behind him.
The commission says changes to the warning system should be finished quickly.(Supplied: Queensland Fire and Emergency Service)

However, it has criticised the length of time it has taken to develop a nationally consistent approach to fire warnings and danger ratings.

An Australian Warning System for consistent labelling of natural disaster danger across the country has been in development for six years, which the commission said was too long.

“For such a critical issue, this work has taken too long and is an example of the need for a clear decision-making process and to elevate matters to national leaders where required,” it said.

“The work on the Australian Warning System should be finished as a priority.”

It made a similar call for a uniform approach to fire danger ratings, noting danger ratings like “catastrophic” are represented differently across states and territories.

More to come.