The federal government has announced $88.1 in funding for a new research centre into bushfires and natural hazards.
The announcement came as the Senate enquiry into the horror 2019/2020 bushfires kicked off last week, which today heard that the Bureau of Meteorology issued over 100 warnings to government ahead of summer.
The funding package will see the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) transition to a vastly expanded operation, and includes an additional $2 million boost for the current BNHCRC to continue its research in the 2020-21 financial year.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the new centre would take advantage of the strong research foundation already established in Australia around bushfires and natural hazards.
“Over the past 18 years the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and its predecessor, the Bushfire CRC, have built a global reputation for delivering research outcomes that have helped better predict bushfire events, which in turn help protect frontline responders and save lives,” Minister Andrews said.
“The Government is committed to backing applied natural hazards research which will deliver tangible outcomes as well as innovative knowledge and solutions.”
The CSIRO is a key organisation in the establishment in the new centre, having been tasked by the government in January 2020 to deliver an independent study recommending ways in which Australia can increase its climate and disaster resilience, supported by an Expert Advisory Panel chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.
The CSIRO will work with the BNHCRC, the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council and government departments to help establish the new centre.
CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall said that the summer of 2019-20 was defined by consecutive natural events including bushfires, floods, drought and heat extremes which touched every Australian.
“Climate change means the frequency and severity of these events will be a factor into the foreseeable future,” he said.
“While much has already been done and achieved by all levels of government, response agencies and the community to increase Australia’s resilience, there is more that science can deliver to predict and protect against disasters – we must deliver for Australia. The establishment of a new national disaster research centre is an important step forward.”
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