Australia

Scott Morrison moves to set up royal commission into 'Black Summer' bushfires

Scott Morrison has called on a royal commission into the bushfires. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to state and territory leaders seeking their agreement to a royal commission into the deadly "Black Summer".

Those who have died in Australia's unprecedented bushfire crisis are owed a royal commission so lessons can be learnt from the horror season, the prime minister says.

Scott Morrison has written to state and territory leaders seeking their approval of draft terms of reference for a royal commission into the devastating bushfire season.

"We owe it to those we have lost," Mr Morrison told parliament on Tuesday.

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Parliament begins with tributes to bushfire victims
Parliament begins with tributes to bushfire victims

"We owe it to those who have fought these fires. We owe it to our children, and the land itself, to learn from the lessons that are necessary."

Mr Morrison has put forward former defence force chief Mark Binskin to lead the proposed royal commission.

The prime minister wants the probe to look at when the federal government is able to step in above state counterparts in natural disasters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
AAP

He also wants it to look at how states were performing on reducing fire risks in the face of hotter, longer and drier summers.

Mr Morrison will need the approval of premiers and chief ministers in order for a probe to go ahead.

The prime minister has labelled the bushfire season, where more than 30 people have died, as the "Black Summer".

"These fires are yet to end and danger is still before us in many, many places, but today we gather to mourn, honour, reflect and begin to learn from the Black Summer that continues," he said.

General view of the remains of a burnt-out property which was impacted on December 30.
General view of the remains of a burnt-out property which was impacted on December 30.
AAP

"And to give thanks for the selflessness, the courage, and the sacrifice and generosity that met these fires time and again, and continue to."

Federal parliament has resumed for the year on Tuesday, with the entire day dedicated to the bushfires.

NSW fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons and family members of the nine firefighters who have died this season were present in the chamber.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said parliament would provide any assistance necessary to those who had lost loved ones and who were still suffering both physically and mentally.

"There has been toughness, resilience, generosity and, amazingly, through it all, there has been a sense of humour," he said.

"All of these qualities have been put to the test during this time of fire and Australians have shown their true character. In this time of upheaval, the only certainty we have is that they will be tested again.

"We must be ready."

As politicians reflected on the catastrophic summer, climate protesters rallied outside Parliament House.

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