After six months, 270 witnesses and 80,000 documents, here's what the bushfire royal commission found

Bushfire royal commission findings released

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Stacey Wilson from the Milton Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade at the bushfire front on Murramarang Road in Bawley Point on December 5, 2019. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Stacey Wilson from the Milton Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade at the bushfire front on Murramarang Road in Bawley Point on December 5, 2019. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

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The Commonwealth government must play a role in responding to future natural disasters, the royal commission convened after the devastating Black Summer bushfires has found.

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The Commonwealth government must play a role in responding to future natural disasters, the royal commission convened after the devastating Black Summer bushfires has found.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements said there needed to be greater leadership from the federal government during national disasters, despite states holding the primary responsibility for emergency management.

It called for the Prime Minister to be able to declare a state of national emergency during such crises.

"We have concluded that the Australian government has the power to, and should, play a greater role in relation to natural disasters on a national scale. For such disasters, the Australian government should be able to declare a state of national emergency," the report said.

"The declaration should be made by the Prime Minister, and legislation should be clear about the circumstances in which a declaration may be made, and the actions that the Australian government can then take to support state and territory governments.

"A declaration would provide an important formal signal to communities and individuals about the severity of a disaster, and signal to Australian government agencies, including the Australian Defence Force, that they need to be on high-alert, ready to help the states and territories in their response and recovery efforts."

The Morrison government came under fire for its slow response to the Black Summer fires, which swept through more than 24 million hectares of land, killing 33 people and destroying more than 3000 homes.

An estimated 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by the fires and the economic impact is believed to be around $10 billion.

Mr Morrison repeatedly said the bushfire response was a matter for the states.

He came under fire for saying "I don't hold a hose, mate" when questioned why he went on holidays while much of the country was burning.

After weeks of pressure, he took the extraordinary step of calling in 3000 Australian Defence Force reservists to assist with the fire efforts across four states.

Ahead of the report's release, survivors and firefighters had called for climate change to be addressed in its recommendations.

"We are really hoping that the royal commission will say 'Hey, government, hey community, everyone needs to do a lot more to reduce our emissions'," David Darlington, a retired NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager and member of the Jindabyne Rural Fire Service, said.

Former NSW Far South Coast National Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager Tim Shepherd urged the commission to recommend firefighters tackle fires earlier, by winching strike teams into remote areas as soon as an ignition is detected by satellites.

More to come

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