But in a damning assessment, Ms McKay, who was on leave over the worst of the fire crisis, said she had toured fire-ravaged towns over the past five days and communities were “hurting and angry” and felt abandoned in the aftermath of the fires.
“I do not say this lightly or to detract from the incredible efforts of our hardworking volunteer firefighters, emergency services personnel and the wider community who have come together to face these catastrophic fires,” Ms McKay said in a letter to Ms Berejiklian.
The message I have received … is that there have been many mistakes made and communities want the opportunity to be heard
“[But] with homes and schools destroyed, businesses brought to a standstill, over a billion animals killed, almost five million hectares of land burned and, tragically, 20 lives lost we cannot claim that the overall management of and response to the fire season has been a success.
“The message I have received from volunteers and residents is that there have been many mistakes made and communities want the opportunity to be heard.”
Ms Berejiklian, who has worked every day of the bushfire crisis and cancelled her planned leave, has said there would be a formal review of “every single part of the fire season”.
Speaking on Sky, Ms Berejiklian said she had told Prime Minister Scott Morrison that she would be happy to co-operate with a federal inquiry such as a royal commission, but NSW needed to hold its own review.
“I think it is important for each state to undertake their own review,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Premier’s office said Ms Berejiklian had committed to a review but did not outline whether it would be a public inquiry, such as a special commission of inquiry.
Ms Berejiklian also told Sky that that it was not up to “politicians” to decide whether there should be more hazard reduction burns and the government had to listen to the “experts”.
Ms McKay said it was appropriate that Ms Berejiklian’s focus was on recovery but she needed to commit to a special commission of inquiry.
“I call on you to commit now to a transparent and independent public inquiry into the preparation for the fire season, how fires were handled, emergency services resourcing and how we can speed up recovery and improve into the future,” Ms McKay’s letter said.
“It is imperative that such an inquiry be open to the public to make submissions, hold public hearings in the communities affected and be conducted by experts and independent from government.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro will be the minister responsible for the disaster recovery.
Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.