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Bushfire royal commission targets mitigation

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched a royal commission into this summer’s bushfire catastrophe, which is estimated to involve insured losses of at least $1.91 billion.

The inquiry will look into ways to prepare Australia for future natural disasters, taking into account the impact of climate change on extreme weather events.

The terms of reference released late last week charge the royal commission with examining proposals to improve existing resilience and mitigation measures. It will also consider the legal framework for the Commonwealth’s involvement in responding to natural disasters.

Retired air chief marshal Mark Binskin, former federal court judge Annabelle Bennett and climate risk specialist Andrew Macintosh will head the inquiry. They are to submit the final report by August 31.

The industry has generally welcomed the royal commission, despite the omission of insurance from the terms of reference.

The Actuaries Institute calls the inquiry a “positive step” in allowing discussion on the mitigation action Australia will need to confront the climate challenge.

“The institute certainly welcomes initiatives that are going to investigate the losses that Australians have suffered and how those can be mitigated or prevented in the future,” the institute’s Australian Actuaries Climate Index Lead Actuary Rade Musulin told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Reducing the underlying risk is something which is critical. Certainly the degree to which this inquiry will investigate underlying drivers, how much should be spent on mitigation and what should be done to reduce losses in the future, is really what we need to be focused on.”

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