I played tennis this morning with a long time friend whose family holiday house was burnt to the ground at Rosedale, south of Bateman’s Bay. Built by his now deceased Canberra based parents many years ago for their children to enjoy, it lies today as ash in the burnt out bush.

One house in the affected area survived. It was a fireproof house.

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The house was fully insured, so his family’s agony at the loss of a place he has visited for decades since boyhood was cushioned. This morning we spoke of  his early thoughts on rebuilding. A fireproof construction, sympathetically designed to blend in with the coastal bush was top of mind.

Many hundreds, perhaps thousands of Australian families will be in this position by the end of this summer.

So here’s a thought. Let’s have an national architectural design competition to produce a suite of fireproof building designs suitable for Australian bush living as we unarguably move into the era of extreme climate change on a continent that looks like it will be in the vanguard of what much of the world will experience.

These should traverse the most basic through to the more extensive of designs They should utilize the very smartest of sustainable and affordable  design while forging a new generation of design aesthetics compatible with the values that draw Australians to live in the bush.

The Commonwealth could fund the prizes across several categories, which would include both residences, garages, storage and workplaces.

Local governments across Australia should work closely together to revise building codes to embrace standards that will see all newly constructed and major renovated buildings conform to these codes.

Those affected will will be starting to plan rebuilds very soon. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Simon Chapman AO is a life member of the Australian Consumers Association (publishers of Choice) and a past chairman