April 2010

Created date

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 10:00pm

Royal Commission

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission is in its final weeks of public hearings with several Bushfire CRC members providing evidence.

Since providing a comprehensive report of the Research Taskforce and other reports and experts on a range of topics, the Royal Commission has held the Bushfire CRC in high regard and continues to engage the Bushfire CRC with contractual work to assist it in its task of investigating the impacts of these fires. This is a strong endorsement of the independent research capabilities of the Bushfire CRC. Further to that, in February the Royal Commission assembled an expert panel on the topic of land and fuel management, with much of the expertise provided by individual researchers of the Bushfire CRC.

More recently, the Bushfire CRC responded to an invitation by the Commission to submit a statement on the need for ongoing bushfire research. This was followed up with request for me to speak in more detail on the matter before the Commission, which I did last Friday. Bushfire CRC researchers John Handmer, Mark Adams, and Jim Gould have also appeared in recent days with Chairman Len Foster due to appear on Friday.




Stakeholder Council was held last week at the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne. After a short tour of the Bureau's forecasting facilities by Victorian Regional Director Dr Mark Williams, Bushfire CRC partners heard a presentation on climate and its impacts on fire from Dr David Jones, Head of the Bureau’s Climate Centre.

With the seven year research program now in its final phase, the Program Leaders (below) of the Bushfire CRC were thanked for their contribution to the research program since 2003. Each Program Leader gave a short presentation on the main outputs of their research area and how it was making an impact.


Program Leaders were thanked for their contribution to the Bushfire CRC: from left, Bob Leicester, CEO Gary Morgan, Christine Owen, Chairman Len Foster, Jim Gould and John Handmer. The remaining Program Leaders, Mark Adams and Rod Keenan, were absent.

Bushfire CRC Research Director Richard Thornton presented important new information on the research program of the Bushfire CRC Extension. This included a discussion led by James Smart from Maddocks lawyers on the requirements in the new Participants Agreements. As highlighted at the meeting, we now urgently require feedback from all Stakeholders on the agreement that was circulated at the November Stakeholder Council meeting by the end of April.


Research Advisory Forum

Next week, the Research Advisory Forum will meet in Sydney to discuss and refine the new research projects in the Bushfire CRC Extension. Project Leaders will present detail on objectives and timelines for all the projects. This is opportunity for all Bushfire CRC partners to make sure their organisations are fully involved in this exciting new research program and it is encouraging to see so many committing to attend.  The forum will be hosted by the NSW Rural Fire Service at its Homebush offices.


US – Australia workshop

The Bushfire CRC is in the advanced stages of discussion with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the US Department of Homeland Security to host an international bushfire research workshop for US and Australian researchers and agency staff. This workshop will be held in mid-June in Melbourne and Canberra with a focus on the issues surrounding fires at the interface. The aim is to establish what is known in this area and what common research could be done. We are planning for a limited mix of people from both sides of the Pacific so participation will be by invitation.


Research Adoption

Upcoming events include:

  • Fire in the high country – a forum that will include presentations and discussion on a range of research including the Bushfire CRC HighFire project. 18-19 May, Albury. This workshop is shaping up to be key event with presentations from Bushfire CRC partners including Shane Fitzsimmons (Commissioner, NSW Rural Fire Service), Bob Conroy (Executive Director, NSW DEC), Neil Cooper (Manager, Fire Management, ACT Parks, Conservation and Lands), Mark Crossweller, (Commissioner, ACT ESA), Liam Fogarty (Assistant Chief Officer, Victoria DSE), and Mark Adams (University of Sydney and Bushfire CRC Board member). More details at www.bushfirecrc.com/training/highcountryforum.html
  • A choice of six pre-conference forums and clinics as part of the AFAC and Bushfire CRC annual conference. 8-10 December, Darwin. More details at www.afac2010.org


Minister approves new direction

Finally, and perhaps most importantly the Minister Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, on 30 March, gave his formal approval for the research plan and associated Commonwealth funding for the Bushfire CRC extension through to 30 June 2013. Much still remains to be done before the Commonwealth Agreement and Participants Agreements are finalised. However, knowing that the Minister has given the green light will smooth the progress of these documents


Gary Morgan
Bushfire CRC