A review headed by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty will examine South Australia’s bushfire readiness before and since the “unprecedented” disasters in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.
- The Country Fire Service said recent fires had been “literally unprecedented”
- A review will examine SA’s bushfire readiness before and since the blazes
- It will focus on the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island bushfires
Those fires claimed three lives, destroyed businesses and about 140 homes, left untold economic impacts and killed thousands of livestock and wildlife.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced the review today, focussing on devastating blazes in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island.
“Even though we remain within the bushfire season, we are pushing ahead with this review as quickly as possible,” Mr Marshall said.
“The changing climate that we operate in at the moment is going to result in the potential for more bushfire events here in South Australia.”
The review is due to be completed by June, before the next bushfire season begins.
Mr Keelty previously chaired an investigation into bushfires in Perth in 2011.
He said he looked forward to working alongside official agencies and senior firefighters “to review and analyse the bushfire season to improve bushfire preparedness for the future”.
The wide-ranging review is likely to explore whether the state’s hazard reduction burning regime is adequate.
“In terms of our preparation for the current bushfire season, all of those cold burns and prescribed burns that were required were completed,” Mr Marshall said.
“The question now is ‘were they adequate in their original design?'”
Fires were ‘literally unprecedented’, CFS chief says
The Federal Government is considering holding a royal commission into this year’s horror bushfire season, but Mr Marshall said he did not want to wait for that “very long” process before taking local action.
This is the first bushfire season with Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones leading the organisation.
“It’s been challenging, but no more challenging for me than for the volunteers who continually stood up and fought these fires,” Mr Jones said.
“Regrettably, the climate circumstances this year have been really challenging … some of those fires are just literally unprecedented.”
The State Opposition has given the review its support.
“Of course, we need a thorough and thought through response into reviewing the bushfire situation and risks here in South Australia, to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent these disasters from occurring,” Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said.
Public consultation will begin next week and members of the public have been encouraged to provide their feedback.
The review is being paid for within the existing emergency services budget.