Establish an independent Royal Commission into the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire crisis

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The scale of the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis is unprecedented and ongoing. We have all been shaken by news of lives lost, thousands of homes destroyed, and estimates of up to a billion animals killed across all states and territories of Australia.

Affected communities, and Australians in general, are angry and want definitive answers. Careless media outlets and politicians have made dubious statements about the causes of these fires, and everyone is wanting to lay the blame somewhere, on someone. In doing so, communities and families are divided over the conflicting reports they hear. As a nation, we will never heal if we never feel that an independent investigation into all of the possible factors and their synergistic effects have been laid bare.

So, we call on the Governor-General to establish a royal commission into the bushfire crisis of 2019-2020. The commission shall naturally need to be established following the end of the bushfire season in 2020, or whenever all currently burning bushfires have been brought into containment.

The terms of reference for the independent committee should include:

- to what extent was federal or state legislation/policies contributing factors to the scale of devastation and loss of life (human, native flora & fauna),

- to what extent was federal or state funding lacking with regards to the actual fire prevention and fighting requirements of departments (such as National Parks and Wildlife Services) and organisations (such as rural fire services),

- to what extent was manpower or lack thereof in firefighting brigades and fire prevention teams a contributing factor to the scale of devastation and loss of life (human, native flora & fauna),

- to what extent were fire prevention methods inadequate, given current scientific and indigenous best-practice guidelines (e.g. hazard reduction burn targets),

- to what extent was the state and Federal response to crises adequate (ie reactionary versus proactive disaster management and division of responsibilities/powers between all levels of government),

- to what extent was anthropogenic climate change a factor that contributed to the scale of devastation and loss of life (human, native flora & fauna),

- to what extent was land use planning (residential interfaces with high hazard areas) and infrastructure networks contributing factors to the scale of devastation and loss of life (human, native flora & fauna), and 

- to what extent was criminal activity involved in the ignition of bushfires (e.g. arsonists, extremists).

The ultimate goals of the royal commission after consulting and working through the terms of reference should be:

- to recommend measures, policies, processes, funding models, and schemes that would prevent a recurrence of bushfires of the scale witnessed in 2019-2020,

- to hold to account those actors that were not operating with due diligence or in the public interest,

- to recommend support networks and other educational material for all Australians with regards to bushfires, and

- to recommend holistic approaches to dealing with large-scale trauma and building community resilience to fire-induced tragedies.