Response to the Australian Bushfire Commission

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements Temperature Projection Graph (p61)

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Viv Forbes; The The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements Report has been released. But the commission’s apparent overt genuflection to climate disaster memes has already drawn harsh criticism from a group of highly experienced land management and fire fighting experts.

For example, on page 22;

23. Extreme weather has already become more frequent and intense because of climate change; further global warming over the next 20 to 30 years is inevitable. Globally, temperatures will continue to rise, and Australia will have more hot days and fewer cool days. Sea levels are also projected to continue to rise. Tropical cyclones are projected to decrease in number, but increase in intensity. Floods and bushfires are expected to become more frequent and more intense. Catastrophic fire conditions may render traditional bushfire prediction models and firefighting techniques less effective.

24. Natural disasters are expected to become more complex, more unpredictable, and more difficult to manage. We are likely to see more compounding disasters on a national scale with far-reaching consequences. Compounding disasters may be caused by multiple disasters happening simultaneously, or one after another. Some may involve multiple hazards – fires, floods and storms. Some have cascading effects – threatening not only lives and homes, but also the nation’s economy, critical infrastructure and essential services, such as our electricity, telecommunications and water supply, and our roads, railways and airports.

25. Australia needs to be better prepared for these natural disasters. They may not happen every year, but when they happen, they can be catastrophic. The summer of 2019-2020 – in which some communities experienced drought, heatwaves, bushfires, hailstorms, and flooding – provided only a glimpse of the types of events that Australia may face in the future.


A group of land management experts has not wasted any time criticising the Bushfire Commission. I think its fair to say they haven’t pulled any punches.


Experienced land and fire managers from eight community groups across Australia have jointly written to the Prime Minister urging the restoration of healthy and safe rural landscapes. The grass-roots organisations represent more than 6,000 members and 14 regional councils. They have called for an end to the ongoing loss of human life and the socioeconomic and environmental destruction caused by extreme bushfires. 

Former Chief of CSIRO Bushfire Research, Phil Cheney, says that a focus on emergency response at the expense of land management has created an unstoppable monster. Expenditure on firefighting forces is ever-increasing whilst volunteers are being cynically used to deflect criticism away from failed government policies. Land management agencies no longer have primary responsibility for suppressing wildfires. Consequently they have little incentive for stewardship and fire mitigation. Cheney is a scientific advisor to Volunteer Fire Fighters Association. 

Chairman of Western Australia’s Bushfire Front, Roger Underwood, points to the stark contrast in historical fire management policies and outcomes on either side of the continent.   Seventy years of data from WA show a strong inverse relationship between the area maintained by mild burning and the area subsequently damaged by high intensity fires. This relationship is especially apparent in extreme fire seasons. 

Underwood is widely experienced in sustainable land and fire management at all levels from lighting or fighting fires on the ground, to leading a State land management agency. He highlights the deep divide between those who actively care for the bush and who understand bushfire science and operations, compared to the Academics and Fire Chiefs who are misleading  governments. The Royal Commission did not call upon Mr. Cheney, Mr. Underwood or similar elders to give evidence. Their consideration of previous bushfire inquiries went back only as far as the COAG whitewash in 2004. 

The Royal Commission has accepted wrong advice from academics and modellers rather than information from experienced practitioners. Consequently its conclusions on Effectiveness of Fuel Management are substantially incorrect.   

Our land was successfully managed for tens of thousands of years, through some extreme climate changes, by people with long experience, but only the most basic technology. It is shocking to see how this has been replaced by reliance on computer modelling and hugely expensive but futile paramilitary response capacity. The inevitable carnage will continue in the wake of this Royal Commission unless active landscape management based on pragmatic science is reinstated.


Phil Cheney 0420 896526 (ACT)

Roger Underwood 0429 339405 (WA)

Here is the letter sent by to the Prime Minister

The signatories of the document criticising the report are:

  • Gary Squires is a forester with 40+ years’ experience in land and fire management.
  • Sandy Kam is the Administrator of NTCA which includes 14 Councils whose representatives are elected Councillors, many if not all having experience in land and fire management, all representing constituents with vast combined experience.
  • Bruce McCormack is President of MCAV and a mountain cattleman with similar experience representing similar constituents.
  • Peter Rutherford is secretary of SETA, and a forester with 40+ years experience in land and fire management representing similarly experienced constituents.
  • Justin Law is Managing Director of an organisation representing a similar constituency.
  • Mick Holton is President of VFFA representing RFS volunteers who are all firefighters.
  • Viv Forbes is a pastoralist and explorer with science qualifications and wide experience at using and fighting fires in Qld and NT. He was an active member of a local bush fire brigade for about 27 years.

Many of the critics individually have very long experience in land and fire management, all are concerned with the centralised control by bureaucrats lacking local knowledge and land management experience. Mick has personal experience with Fire and Rescue NSW as well as NSW Rural Fire Service.

I love the graph the Bushfire Commission supplied (top of the page), because it demonstrates the absurdity of the Australian temperature anomaly projections the commission used for their statements about future climate change.

Even the age of the Dinosaurs, the Cretaceous, with an average atmospheric CO2 level of 1700ppm, was only +4C temperature anomaly.

Suggesting the Australian temperature anomaly could exceed the warmth of the Cretaceous in the next few decades, with an atmospheric CO2 level far below the 1700ppm of the Cretaceous, is a pretty wild claim.

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via Watts Up With That?

October 30, 2020 at 08:29PM

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