Funding extended for bushfire researchers

Funding extended for bushfire researchers

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Nearly $90 million over the next 10 years will be spent on bushfire research. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Nearly $90 million over the next 10 years will be spent on bushfire research. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

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A new centre for bushfire and natural disaster research will be set up, after months of uncertainty about the future of fire research in Australia.

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A new centre for bushfire and natural disaster research will be set up, after months of uncertainty about the future of fire research in Australia.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud announced on Thursday the Morrison government would provide nearly $90 million to transition the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre into a "world-class research centre for natural hazard resilience and disaster risk reduction".

This funding over the next 10 years is significantly more than the $47 million the centre was provided over the past eight years, The Canberra Times understands.

The centre will also receive an extra $2 million this year to continue its research on the devastating Black Summer bushfires.

Funding for the centre - which was the only facility in Australia dedicated to bushfire research - had been due to expire next year.

That funding was unable to be extended under the legislation that governs cooperative research centres.

The centre told a Senate inquiry into the 2019-20 fires it had already cut its bushfire research over the past "six to eight months" and would be down to "about 20 percent of its full capacity" by June.

The centre will be co-funded by state and territory governments, emergency service agencies, as well as universities and industry.

The Department of Home Affairs, through Emergency Management Australia, and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources will work closely with key stakeholders, including CSIRO, the current research centre and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council to help establish the new centre over the next year.

It comes as Governor-General David Hurley agreed to extend the reporting deadline for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements by two months.

The commission will now provide an interim report on August 31 before handing down its final findings on October 28.

Royal commission chair Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin asked for the extension as the COVID-19 pandemic had placed enormous pressure on governments and witnesses attempting to provide information.

The interim reporting date has been set to allow governments enough time to fold recommendations from the royal commission into their preparations for next bushfire season.

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