The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the move by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that he will take a proposal to Cabinet to establish a royal commission into the current catastrophic bushfires.

CEO of AFPA Ross Hampton said that the government has flagged that the national royal commission will look at responses of state and federal governments to the bushfires, the ADF involvement, as well as emissions reduction policies.

“Australia will always face the risk of bushfires because of our geography and weather patterns but clearly we need to look at ways to reduce the potential for these bushfires to burn so intensely and on such a large scale,” Mr Hampton said.

“We believe that it is necessary to look at the management of our forests on a whole-of-landscape scale and not rule anything out if it helps manage the bushfire risk.

“The royal commission will be an enormous wasted opportunity if it doesn’t also consider land use management across all our bushland. All our native forest management regimes must in the future be required to reach a higher state of bushfire readiness. Fires do not know about lines on maps so it is ridiculous that some areas, like the estate managed for forestry and other values such as camping, are better prepared for fires than other areas.”

“As a volunteer fire-fighter myself I understand the concern some are expressing that, even as these important announcements are being made, thousands of fire fighters are risking their lives on active fires or in ‘blacking out’ operations which are also very dangerous due to damaged trees and poles. There are many weeks of the fire season left to run and the absolute priority remains supporting the active firefighting efforts.

“The Australian forest industry welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minster and we look forward to engaging with a royal commission in the future.”