Bushfire royal commission rejected by UFU boss Peter Marshall


The United Firefighters Union is opposing a royal commission into this summer’s catastrophic bushfires, despite growing support for a federal inquiry.

National secretary Peter Marshall today slapped down the idea for a nationwide review, despite support from the Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian firefighter branches.

“Essentially, the Royal Commission will be a size where it will go for a very long time, be extremely expensive and will be an extreme onus on the people who have fought the fires, as well as the public who have experienced loss,” Mr Marshall said.

“What we’re saying very clearly is it’s unnecessary, given that all the matters including; the role of the defence, the role of the federal executive being the government, the interoperability, prescribed burning fuel reduction, climate change and the interaction between the federal government and states, have all been canvassed in other inquiries.”

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media_cameraJessica Tregellas, 12, and her sister Emily, 15, walk their dog past burning NBN cable rolls in Mallacoota. Picture: David Caird

According to Mr Marshall there have been 23 inquiries held since 1939 – including the Black Saturday Royal Commission – but many recommendations “have sat on the shelf gathering dust”.

Instead, he suggested the Council of Australian Governments bring forward the next sitting date and have the Audit Committee review past recommendations.

Mr Marshall – who is the Victorian secretary and also the UFU’s national boss – wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week outlining his concerns.

North Warrandyte CFA Strike Team captured the destruction caused by fires in Mallacoota.pacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/1579052363_672_Bushfire-royal-commission-rejected-by-UFU-boss-Peter-Marshall.jpeg”/>
media_cameraNorth Warrandyte CFA Strike Team captured the destruction caused by fires in Mallacoota.

He denied it was a move to “politicise” the matter and was instead trying to avoid running multiple overlapping inquires, including coronial inquests and audits that will be carried out by individual states.

The commission put forward by Mr Morrison comes amid growing pressure to act on protecting the nation from a future national fire crisis and increasing concern about inaction on climate change.

Bushfires between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance. Picture: Gettypacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/1579052363_672_Bushfire-royal-commission-rejected-by-UFU-boss-Peter-Marshall.jpeg”/>
media_cameraBushfires between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance. Picture: Getty

He will take the recommendation to the Cabinet with a focus on the 28 lives that have been claimed.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has previously questioned the benefit of a federal inquiry and flagged a Victorian inquiry.

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In a move of solidarity Mr Marshall said he had been impressed by Victoria’s response this season and denied there had been issues between professional and volunteer crews.

Mr Marshall also acknowledged volunteer units were doing it tough and should be adequately resourced when it comes to trucks and equipment in the future.

Originally published as Firefighters union opposes bushfire royal commission



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