Australia’s first-ever ‘bushfire preparedness’ summit is underway in Canberra.
The summit will test management procedures and identify areas of improvement before a forecasted dangerous summer bushfire season.
In an interview with TDA, Federal Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt said the country is “as well prepared as we possibly can be.
“We’re certainly a lot better prepared than we were as a country heading into black summer,” Watt added.
The Bureau of Meteorology has declared an El Niño is underway, with hot and dry conditions contributing “to elevated fire risk over both spring and summer”.
In its latest outlook, the Australian Fire Authorities Council warned that increased fuel growth from La Niña rainfall “is contributing to increased risk of bushfire”.
Firefighters have begun hazard-reduction burns in some areas to eliminate some of that vegetation.
Hundreds of industry, government and community representatives are currently gathering for two days of talks at Parliament House.
Attendees are sharing resources and developing coordination procedures to ensure they are equipped to deal with the conditions.
The summit also includes a bushfire simulation exercise to test attendees’ response to emergencies.
What would success look like?
Federal Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt told TDA a ‘successful’ bushfire season would be one “where everyone who had a role to play came together” without trying to “buck pass and avoid responsibility”.
“I can’t guarantee that we won’t lose properties and, God forbid, even lives or animals.”
“What I want to make sure of is that we are as well prepared as we possibly can,” he said.