Australia to hold wide-ranging inquiry into disastrous bushfires 1

Australia to hold wide-ranging inquiry into disastrous bushfires

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Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday that Australia would conduct an extensive investigation into the cause of the recent forest fire, killing 33 people and leveling a South Korea-size region.

For months, Australia has fought hundreds of fires that started in September. This is an unusually long summer fire season, and the drought was caused by a three-year drought, which experts attribute to climate change.

Morrison said that firefighters can still fight dozens of fires, and Morrison said the six-month royal commission will investigate preparations for future forest fires and whether laws need to be amended to clarify who is responsible for overseeing the emergency authorities.

“This Royal Commission is looking at the practical things that must be done to keep Australians safe and safer for longer in hot dry summers – conditions in which Australians will live into the future,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Morrison has stoked widespread public anger by refusing to directly link the bushfires to climate change, insisting removing flammable vegetation is “just as important, if not more”.

His fire management received attention after being forced to make a rare public apology for a vacation to Hawaii in November.

Under mounting pressure, Morrison in January deployed 6,500 military reservists to support state authorities – which he said created a “constitutional gray zone”.

Forest fire management is the responsibility of state governments and fire brigades.

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