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Bushfires illustrate need to fund fire research

The bushfires ravaging Australia are a sobering illustration of why New Zealand’s life-saving research into rural fires needs consistent Government funding, National’s Research, Science and Innovation Spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion is involved in fire-spread research that could transform how wildfires are fought. It’s time the Government properly supported this life-saving work that New Zealand could lead the world in.

“Scion is creating a new model of how fires spread and is investigating new prevention methods, including response technologies to suppress extreme fires.

“Australia’s ongoing bushfires are evidence that the frequency and patterns of fires are changing, making this research more important than ever.

“New Zealand is not immune to this threat having experienced devastating fires in Nelson and Christchurch’s Port Hill in recent years.

“Financing for Scion’s fire research comes from contestable funds, meaning there is no guarantee of future funding. National believes the Government should instead give Scion the security it needs of $3 million annually.

“Unfortunately, my call for dedicated, consistent and secure funding was recently dismissed by Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

“The annual average direct impact of rural fire on New Zealand’s economy is estimated at $67 million per year, with indirect costs estimated to be at least two to three times this.”

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