In March and April 2020 the MUA made three submissions to current inquires into the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfire season. The submissions cover:
- The severe impact of bushfire smoke on MUA members, and the steps that members and the union took to reduce workers’ exposure
- The need to improve air quality standards and provide accessible reporting of air quality. In particular, the new NSW interim hourly standards are set dangerously high, and there is no hourly national standard
- The contribution of MUA members and the role of ships in rescuing people from bushfires and bringing essential supplies to thousands of people with no other means of assistance
- The need for the Australian Government to purchase emergency response vessels as part of a national Strategic Fleet. Sign this petition in support
- The need for a coordinated and well-funded cultural burning program across the country, with training and rollout of the programs to be developed and controlled by local First Nations community members
- The need to prevent bushfire seasons from worsening even further by urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep global heating below 1.5°C
The MUA has made submissions to the following inquiries:
The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (also known as the Bushfire Royal Commission). This independent Royal Commission was commissioned by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and is being led by Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC (Retd), The Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC, former Federal Court Judge, and Professor Andrew Macintosh, a specialist in climate risk and impact management. It is expected to report at the end of August 2020.
NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the Health impacts of exposure to poor levels of air quality resulting from bushfires and drought. This Inquiry is being conducted by members of the NSW Legislative Council from the ALP, Greens, Animal Justice Party, Liberals and Nationals. It will release a public report with recommendations on 24 September.
- MUA submission
- The MUA also gave evidence to the Committee at its hearing on 10 June, by video conference. Representatives from the AWU, ASU, Unions NSW, The NSW Teachers’ Federation and the PSA also appeared, along with scientists and air quality and health campaigners. The MUA was represented by National Safety and Training Officer Jake Field and MUA site committee member Nat Wasley.
- Inquiry website
NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry: This is an independent expert inquiry commissioned by the NSW Government. It is being led by Dave Owens APM, former Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, and Professor Mary O’Kane AC, Independent Planning Commission Chair and former NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. It will report to Premier Gladys Berejiklian on 31 July 2020 but no date is set yet for public release.
For more about the MUA’s work on the climate crisis, the impact of workers and the need for a just transition see here.