CLIMATE change would need to be the focal point of a royal commission into the bushfire crisis, a bushfire expert says.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced he would bring the proposal for a royal commission to Cabinet.
La Trobe University Bendigo landscape and climate expert Dr Jim Radford said he was "cautiously supportive" of the proposal.
"Since 1939, there have been dozens of commissions and inquiries following bushfire disasters," Dr Radford said.
"There are reasons for doing it now, as long as we realise these bushfires herald a new environment in which we need to tackle bushfires and manage their risk.
"What we've seen this year is the affect of climate change. There is nothing new about fire, but what we have seen is unprecedented in terms of the early start to the season and the extent geographically the fires are covering."
Dr Radford said there were a number of issues that would need to be addressed in a royal commission, including increasing rapid response capacity.
"Fire agencies generally hire all heavy machinery from the United States," Dr Radford said.
"But with the increasing length of the fire season, there is now an overlap between the fire seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres.
"This season, the large water bombers weren't available early on because there were still fires in the US. We need to increase our own capacity to hit the fires hard and early."
But Dr Radford said ultimately, climate change needed to lead the conversation.
"We need to change our thinking and be mindful of the new environment that we're working with," he said. "Climate change has supercharged the fires and made the fire seasons longer.
"There needs to be the recognition that this is not a once-off. With carbon already in the atmosphere, we're locked into this climate for many years to come.
"We need to get better at reducing carbon emissions. We need to be a global leader in that."
Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said Labor would not oppose a royal commission. However, Ms Chesters said she had some concerns.
"Calling a royal commission cannot be an excuse not to take real action now," she said.
She said she would be "very concerned" if the federal government was to use the royal commission as an excuse not to listen to the many experts out there.
Her other concern was the way in which she said the government had used previous royal commissions on other topics to shift blame.
Ms Chesters cited the banking royal commission and the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption as examples.
She said Mr Morrison was "desperate to distract" from having to make "big, expensive decisions" about how best to help fire-affected communities.
"He is a desperate man," Ms Chesters said.
On the timing of any royal commission, Ms Chesters said: "People are still fighting fires. They're not ready to write submissions yet."
"Writing a submission to a royal commission is probably the last thing they need right now."
She said the federal government needed to address immediate challenges for fire-affected communities, like Centrelink issues and saving species that had lost homes and habitats.
"There is a role for federal government to play," Ms Chesters said.
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