The Howitt Society has asked the Victorian Coroner to investigate aspects of the catastrophic Black Summer bushfires. Following the fires, the Government of Victoria commissioned a report by the Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM) and the Commonwealth Government commissioned a Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements that included bushfire. Source: Timberbiz
“Both inquiries were largely focused on response and recovery and did not address some of the root causes of the fire disaster which are focused around lack of preparedness,” said society secretary Garry Squires.
“The IGEM failed to fully cover the requirements of and report on any shortcomings in the government’s fully addressing the requirements of section 5 of the Emergency Management Act, and in particular the requirement to ‘minimize the likelihood, effect and consequences of emergencies’,” he said.
The coroner’s office can be requested to investigate any fire for the purpose of finding the causes of the fires and to contribute to the reduction of the number of preventable deaths and fires and the promotion of public health and safety.
Should the Howitt Society request be accepted by the coroner, there will be opportunities for any people or organisations who wish to be considered “interested parties” to become involved in the process.
“The lack of adequate preparations for a fire emergency is well illustrated by the disastrous outcome at Mallacoota so we have requested that the coroner use that location as a case study,” Mr Squires said.
The Howitt Society is a group of experienced land and fire managers, scientists, foresters, anthropologists, historians, past and current stakeholders.