Australian Bushfire Royal Commission Begins Despite COVID-19 Delay

    After a two week delay as the Australian government struggled with the logistics of holding a royal commission on a remote basis, the government’s investigation into Australia’s most devastating fire season began on April 16th, 2020.

    Chaired by retired Chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin, the proceedings began with opening statements delivered by the former head of Australia’s Defence Forces touching on the loss of life and how the fires affected towns and cities around Australia like none before the 2019/2020 bushfire season.

    Due to the unique nature of this royal commission having to be conducted remotely, many of those that would traditionally appear in person has instead had to be scheduled for video evidence, or have been visited by commissioners Dr. Annabelle Bennett SC and Professor Andrew Macintosh who have visited 17 fire-affected communities over the past months leading up to the Royal Commission.

    Aerial firefighting will likely play a large part in the Royal Commission that is scheduled to speak on the aerial firefighting response starting next week.  Suggestions likely to be discussed include the creation of a national waterbombing fleet being made available to all states. During the previous fire season, LAT aircraft contracted to New South Wales were sent to Western Australia during their hardest hit time, and likewise, New South Wales aircraft were also sent to assist in Queensland among many interstate transfers of assets that were conducted during the bushfire season in Australia.

    Australia’s Royal Commission structure is used in many ways as an investigative body that looks at all evidence presented that can then make wide-ranging recommendations to change the way state and federal bodies operate in the hopes of correcting issues, system abuses, closing loopholes and streamlining government operations. Royal Commissions can be carried out at the state or federal level and in recent years have examined topics such as Police Corruption, Government Tarifs, Trade Unions and many other subjects. Australia has conducted 138 Royal Commissions since its inception in 1788.


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