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Australia releases final report into Black Saturday bushfires

Prince William, centre, talks with Richard and Diane Fox, left, who survived 2009 Victorian bushfire as Christine Nixon, chair of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, right, listens in Whittlesea, on the outskirts of Melbourne, on January 21, 2010. The Prince was visiting communities that were badly effected by last year's bushfires in Victoria on his final day of his unofficial Australian visit. Photo: AP

Prince William, centre, talks with Richard and Diane Fox, left, who survived 2009 Victorian bushfire as Christine Nixon, chair of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, right, listens in Whittlesea, on the outskirts of Melbourne, on January 21, 2010. The Prince was visiting communities that were badly effected by last year's bushfires in Victoria on his final day of his unofficial Australian visit. Photo: AP  

The final report into the 2009 Victorian bushfires has been handed to Victorian state premier John Brumby on Saturday.

After 155 days of hearings, including evidence from more than 400 witnesses, the Royal Commission has handed down its final report with 67 recommendations.

Victoria’s Bushfires Royal Commission has recommended sweeping policy changes in response to the Black Saturday and Gippsland bushfires, including the potential for “emergency evacuations” when doing so would provide a greater level of protection.

According to the report, it has also called for designated community refuges in areas of high bushfire risk and for the appointment of an independent fire commissioner.

It has also recommended parts of Victoria’s ageing electricity infrastructure be upgraded to reduce the risk of fires.

A total of 173 people were killed and thousands were left homeless when bushfires swept across Victoria on February 7, 2009.

The report concluded former Victorian police chief commissioner Christine Nixon took a “hands off” approach on Black Saturday, saying that her performance on the day “left much to be desired“.

Nixon has admitted going to dinner at a Melbourne hotel as the fires raged.

According to the report, the Commission found Ms. Nixon, former Country Fire Authority chief Russel Rees and the head of the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Ewan Waller, “did not demonstrate effective leadership in crucial areas” by ensuring that “prompt and accurate warnings were issued to communities in the path of the fires”.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:58:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Australia-releases-final-report-into-Black-Saturday-bushfires/article16217162.ece

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