Bushfire prompts call for national phone warning system in Australia

February 12th, 2009 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Canberra, Feb 12 (Xinhua) An emergency warning system for the whole of Australia should be set up before the next fire season, Victorian Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin has said.
Esplin said the system could be used for a range of emergencies, including bushfires, floods, a terrorist attack or a tsunami, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported Thursday.

The commissioner said he was frustrated by the delays in establishing a system that would send a message to phones during an emergency, and blamed this on bickering between the states and territories about how it would operate.

He appealed for this to end and for a national system to be set up. “We must agree on a system and put it in place before the next season,” Esplin was cited by AAP as saying.

“I think it’s taken too long and I think we need to work as a country, not as separate states and territories, and it’s time we did that and protected our community,” he added.

Referred to as “electronic door knocks”, the system could send a text or voice message to land lines and mobile telephones, he said.

A landline system has been tested in Victoria and Western Australia which would involve people volunteering to place themselves on a register to receive calls.

The official death toll of the worst bushfire in Australian history stood at 181, though officials said it could exceed 200.

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