- Former head of the Victorian Country Fire Authority, Euan Ferguson to head review
- Former Governor Ken Michael to oversee community recovery efforts
The State Government has appointed experienced interstate country fire expert Euan Ferguson to undertake an extensive inquiry into the recent bushfires that devastated Yarloop and other areas in the South-West.
Euan Ferguson, until recently head of the Victorian Country Fire Authority and prior to that at the helm of the South Australian Country Fire Service, is widely experienced in bushfire mitigation and response, and will start his investigation within several weeks.
Premier Colin Barnett said the Government was committed to learning as much as possible about the causes of, and response to, the recent fire that claimed two lives and devastated Yarloop and large areas of surrounding bush and farmland.
"Legitimate questions have been asked about the response to this fire and, in particular, the circumstances of the devastation of Yarloop and the tragic loss of two lives," Mr Barnett said.
"This review will get to the bottom of these matters and will provide the Government and the public with answers and recommendations for improvement. Mr Ferguson will be provided with whatever support he requires to undertake his role."
The Premier said he was also pleased to announce the appointment of former West Australian Governor Ken Michael to oversee the prompt and effective implementation and co-ordination of measures to assist affected communities to recover from the fire.
"In his role, Dr Michael will chair a State Recovery Coordination Group and oversee State agency and local government recovery arrangements," he said.
"He will play a key role in ensuring that services and support to communities impacted by the fire are directed where they are most needed as well as considering future planning for Yarloop."
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the independent review would also include consideration of the extent to which lessons learned from previous reports and incidents had been applied by relevant authorities in this State.
"Considerable work has been undertaken in recent years to reduce the risk and impact of bushfires, but major challenges remain as this fire has demonstrated, " Mr Francis said.
"Mr Ferguson will provide the Government with recommendations on further reforms to better protect people and property from bushfires. His report will be made public."
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the State Government would play a major role in assisting with the clean-up of Yarloop.
"The State Government acknowledges that the clean-up of Yarloop is a massive task and Royalties for Regions will play an integral role in supporting the community as it moves forward," Mr Redman said.
The review will be set up under section 24 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994, and will have similar powers to a Royal Commission. Mr Ferguson will have the power to compel witnesses to attend and to require them to produce documents and give evidence under oath.
Previous inquiries conducted under these provisions include the Blaxell Inquiry into the conduct and response of government agencies and public officials following allegations of sexual abuse at a Katanning hostel, and the Keelty Inquiry into the 2011 Perth Hills fire.
- The inquiry will examine and report on
a) The response to the January 2016 Waroona Fire
b) Lessons learned from previous bushfire emergencies
c) The need for further reform
Premier's office - 6552 5000