The 2013 Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry Report was released on 15 October 2013.
The Inquiry Report was prepared by a team led by Special Investigator Mal Hyde.
The Report makes 103 recommendations which relate to:
- Fire operations: 25 recommendations
- Police operations: 5 recommendations
- Traffic management: 4 recommendations
- Community communications and warnings: 9 recommendations
- Evacuation: 6 recommendations
- Emergency management arrangements: 11 recommendations
- Recovery: 8 recommendations
- General: 35 recommendations
The Tasmanian Government accepted 72 recommendations and approved-in-principle the remaining 31 recommendations; further consultation will decide how they are to be implemented.
Of the 103 recommendations, 30 have been prioritised for immediate implementation and, where possible, will be implemented before the end of 2013.
The 2013 Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry attracted more than 100 submissions from individuals, agencies or groups and involved 117 interviews.
The Inquiry also referred to reports and research such as the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council audit-review and the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre's Preliminary Report on the January 2013 Fires in the South-Eastern Tasmania Research Project.
The Government has allocated $1.5 million to action immediate priorities in response to the Inquiry. Funding will be used to address high priority issues such as fuel reduction, warnings, evacuation, traffic control and communication. Details of the funding allocation are:
- $381,000 for fuel reduction burning on public and private land including:
- $156 000 to the Tasmania Fire Service, as announced last week, for the first year of a three-year program to help land owners to better understand what they can do to reduce fuel on private agricultural land.
- $225 000 to support Fire Management Area Committees to identify fuel reduction priorities across each region and plan for fuel reduction.
- $245,000 to purchase 30 Tasmania Fire Service radios for Tasmania Police, and 50 Tasmania Police radios for the State Emergency Service as an interim measure to address interoperability issues.
- $300,000 to support significant upgrades to regional and State coordination facilities. This will fast-track the implementation of a new decision-support system to be adopted across all emergency services early in 2014.
- $96,500 for traffic management equipment, including $66,000 for new electronic signage that can be deployed throughout the State as required.
- $240,000 to support TasALERT, a new whole-of-government website which will draw information from existing departmental social media accounts and websites, providing a single source of clear and consistent emergency and resilience information from Emergency Services and State Government agencies. Outside the emergency response periods, the website will provide the community with general information on topics such as volunteering, disaster preparedness and resilience-focussed campaigns. TasALERT will significantly improve the ability of the Tasmanian Government to communicate with the public in preparation for and during an emergency.
- $20,000 for Emergency Management Australia to conduct training in coordinating multi-agency responses for incident managers and controllers.
- $100,000 to engage the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Council to assist with reviewing and updating policies and procedures.
- $60,000 to assist in implementing the recommendations of the Inquiry requiring immediate attention. Premier Lara Giddings said the Government was determined to use the recommendations constructively to improve all aspects of its emergency response – from fire preparation to recovery.
Work on the 30 recommendations prioritised for immediate implementation is well advanced and discussions with agencies in regards to the 73 non-immediate recommendations have commenced.
The Bushfires Cabinet Committee – comprising the Premier, Deputy Premier, Minister for Police and Emergency Management, and Minister for Health – is being reconvened to oversee implementation of the recommendations and spending priorities.