Clayton Barr MP, State Member for the Electorate of Cessnock and Shadow Minister for the Hunter is urging bushfire-affected residents, emergency and support personnel, organisations and the general public to make submissions to the independent inquiry into the 2019/2020 bushfires before the May 22 deadline.
The NSW Government announced the independent expert Inquiry into the recent bushfire season at the end of January 2020. Led by Dave Owens APM, former Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, and Professor Mary O’Kane AC, Independent Planning Commission Chair and former NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, the six-month inquiry is reviewing the causes of, preparation for and response to the 2019-20 bushfires.
“The more information that is collected through this process the more we will learn from the inquiry. I urge those wanting to make a submission to do so urgently before the deadline” said Mr Barr.
The 2019-20 bushfire season started over two months early as the fire season usually begins on October 1, with drought affecting 95% of NSW and persistent dry and warm conditions across the state.
The NSW Rural Fire Service reported between July 2019 – 13 February 2020, that there were 11,264 bush or grass fires in NSW which burnt 5.4 million hectares (13 million acres) and destroyed 2,439 homes.
Mr Barr has stated “Sharing your experiences and your story will help inform the inquiry’s work, and provide a picture of the events surrounding the bushfires which impacted our community. It is vital that we hear the insights and stories of communities, families and individuals who were impacted.”
“The inquiry is vital in identifying/ensuring that the same mistakes that were made both in the lead up to and during the 2019-20 bushfire crisis, don’t happen again” said Mr Barr.
The Berejiklian Government bowed to pressure from Labor to extend the submission deadline to 22 May 2020 after the initial deadline was extended from 27 March to 17 April 2020 to allow for more submissions.
Due to the restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic face-to-face community meetings were transitioned to a limited online format. You can make submissions online www.nsw.gov.au/bushfireinquiry
Labor Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Trish Doyle MP said “It’s not ideal, but for many people rebuilding after the fires the only way to have their voice heard by this inquiry has been to go online and make a written submission.”
You can also provide feedback via the options below:
Post: NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, GPO Box 5341, Sydney NSW 2001.
Phone: If you have limited computer or internet access you can make a submission over the phone by calling the Bushfire Customer Care program on 13 77 88.
In person: at any Service NSW service centre.