'I have been heartbroken': Labor MP calls for strategic review amid ongoing bushfire crisis

Labor MP Mike Kelly said the federal government should have organised special COAG meeting to coordinate the bushfire response. Picture: Alasdair McDonald
Labor MP Mike Kelly said the federal government should have organised special COAG meeting to coordinate the bushfire response. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Labor MP Mike Kelly says prime minister Scott Morrison should have organised a special meeting with the heads of all states and territories to coordinate a response to the current Australian bushfire crisis.

The Eden-Monaro MP, who is currently dealing with health issues and unable to visit his electorate, is also calling for experts to be involved in a national strategic review of the threat posed to the nation by natural disasters including the current bushfire emergency.

Dr Kelly said the review should investigate the "facts and projections as to the nature of the threat we will be facing from all types of disasters".

"This review would evaluate all the capability, and personnel needs flowing from this and trawl through lessons learned from all who are involved in managing and responding to large scale crisis," he said.

I want to pass on my condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and my deepest thanks to our firies, police, ADF teams and councils. We will get through this and rebuild.

Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly

"The review should also produce a national strategic plan that addresses all of the organisational, consultation, liaison, planning, mobilisation, command and control, communications, logistics and structural issues.

"It would be led authoritative experts, supported by research and advisory agencies like the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology with input and involvement from all the responder agencies, the states and territories and councils."

Mr Morrison, who was criticised for his handling of the emergency by bushfire evacuees in Cobargo and forced to abandon a meet-and-greet in front of the media at the town's evacuation centre, has hinted at the possibility of a royal commission into the bushfire disaster.

On Sunday he announced a number of national peak groups will meet in Canberra on Friday to "consult and further consider proposals around the bushfire recovery response".

"Over the course of the next week, the ministers are convening round tables, the Minister for Health in fact convened one on Friday, I'll be participating in one in particular on small business on Tuesday," Mr Morrison said.

The government has also announced funding of $76 million dollars for the National Bushfire Recovery Fund, which includes $2.7 million in community recovery grants. At least 2,700 army reservists have also been deployed to the help the relief effort.

Army reservist Patrick Foxley in Bega on Monday after favourable weekend weather conditions helped firefighters tackle blazes across the region. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Army reservist Patrick Foxley in Bega on Monday after favourable weekend weather conditions helped firefighters tackle blazes across the region. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Dr Kelly said his office has been contacted by many bushfire affected residents and is "working around the clock to help coordinate and assist" where possible.

In December Dr Kelly condemned the prime minister's decision to holiday in Hawaii as fires claimed lives and destroyed hundreds of properties, including in Eden-Monaro.

"I understand some of the frustration and anger that the community has felt concerning the federal government's handling of the crisis but I am currently focused on dealing with practical matters and where we go from here, so will not comment further on those issues right now," Dr Kelly said this week.

"We have ensured information has flowed to relevant organisations and authorities and worked on problems raised by constituents. I have been in constant touch with councils, firies, police, Telstra, Blaze Aid and state and federal colleagues and many others to ensure we are getting the help we need.

"We are going through the sternest test our region has ever faced from natural disaster right now and there is still some way to go to get through this season. Like all of us I have been heartbroken at the loss of life and property.

"I am so proud of the way our community responds to crisis and the way we are looking out for each other. Rest assured everyone is working together as a team at federal, state and council level and amongst all the responders and agencies.

"I want to pass on my condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and my deepest thanks to our firies, police, ADF teams and councils. We will get through this and rebuild."

Dr Kelly said lessons must be learned from the bushfire emergency in future dealing with disasters, and said he will be visiting the electorate once his health situation improves.

"Personally I have been going through a medical crisis recently which has prevented me from being on the road, but I have had the catheter removed from abdomen a couple days ago and as soon as the incision is healed over I will be hitting the road again to pick up issues directly from the community, seeing the issues for myself and focus on reconstruction planning," he said.

"We must also learn the lessons of dealing with mega disasters to cure any of the deficiencies that have emerged so I encourage people to make a mental note of their experience in this regard so that we can address these issues when the emergency has subsided."

This story 'I have been heartbroken': Labor MP calls for strategic review amid ongoing bushfire crisis first appeared on Bega District News.