Image for Tasmania is still burning

Hopefully, the other Australian states have politicians somewhat more astute and perceptive then those the majority of Tasmanians have elected.

By reading Lyndall Rowley and observing the voluminous responses to her article, “Zero tolerance of fires in Australia” ( HERE ) it is obvious that the increase in bush fires in all Australian states is a genuine community concern.

Lyndall Rowley needs to be commended for her responses - she has not allowed local animosities and political clap trap to divert her from the topic and her concerns.

One cannot do other than cringe when reading the clichéd and customary platitudes expressed by the Premier of Tasmania, Will Hodgman in his acknowledgement of the fire fighters’ commitment.

Some of the fire fighters are still involved in the hopeless task of attending to the fourth week of bush fires in Tasmania, as well as more fires in Western Australia, whilst politicians continue to play political games.

Premier Hodgman’s assurance that he will review ( another review) what can be learned from the recent multiple bush fires in our unique state indicates that he totally missed the point of Lyndall Rowley’s article, “ Zero tolerance of fires in Australia: a new paradigm for new technology and tactics.” ( HERE )

Maybe he purposely tried to minimise the reality of the recent devastation and impact the fires are having on the Tasmanian environment and the physical health of its citizens to avoid to having to take any action.

It appears that instead, the Premier and his Minister of Emergency Management, are trying to pre-empt any criticism by resorting to cheap political point scoring by inferring that the Greens are criticising the poor volunteers on the end of a water hose.

Tasmania has something to worry about when their Minister for” Emergency Management” responds to the community’s concerns in such an uncaring and inappropriate manner.

Your inappropriate responses won’t work fellows, the many reactions are telling you that there is a real concern within the Australian community (not just Tasmania) about the effectiveness of our underfunded and under resourced state fire services and their preparedness to deal with the ever increasing number of bushfires.

Many elderly people in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have recently been inhaling heavily smoke laden air – in Tasmania for the last four weeks and this has no doubt been damaging their health.

Surely Tasmanian hospitals must have had a great increase in admissions related to respiratory complaints.

The Government’s inept responses are another indication of no action and a continuation of underfunding of our inadequate fire services.

This inadequacy has recently been confirmed by evidence that the firefighting efforts were making very little or any impact at all on the raging bush fires in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria.

But we were warned, after all Tony Abbot said,” Australia has always had bush fires and always will.” So no further action is proposed despite the new available technology.

Never mind the underfunded and inadequate state fire fighting units manned by part time volunteers - conservatism will romanticise the inadequacies as a cultural inheritance.

Politicians were quick to respond to the traditional vote winner of security and border protection.

Australian deaths due to world wide terrorist attacks from 1973 to 2016 total 113 (excluding the military). Many of those deaths happened outside the jurisdiction of the Australian government and fell outside the control of Australian security measures.

Within Australia some of them happened because of the failure of the judicial system which allowed mentally deranged potential mass murderers to walk within the community whilst on bail for suspicion of murder.

The Australian government has responded to these acts of terrorism by passing laws restricting individual Australian citizens’ freedom and establishing security measures at an estimated cost of over 30 billion.

Bush fires in Australia since 1960 killed 564 people, some of them volunteer fire fighters and it destroyed 9656 dwellings, killed 82500 livestock, destroyed miles of fencing, power lines and many farm and road vehicles.

This tragic loss of life and large economic cost does not seem to have actioned the politicians in the same way as the vote winning issues of security and terrorism.

It’s not the so called ‘Tony Abbot’s death cult’ which year after year in Australia causes the previously stated devastation and misery and health issues but the increasing frequency of bushfires.

Since 2003, the frequency of bush fires per year have increased at an alarming rate of four times as many per year.

Isn’t it time that our politicians faced up to the fact that our firefighting in Australia isn’t working? The community is frightened and it is the government’s obligation to improve the firefighting agencies’ effectiveness - a more important mission than their hobby horse focus on security in a hope to ameliorate their re-election chances?

Surely more uncontrollable bushfires per year and more lives and dwellings lost must tell them something and a little more is required than just a lukewarm thank you to the fire fighters and some cheap political point scoring.

Billions of dollars are spent on defence on behalf of what our late ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser called our “Dangerous Allies” in the Middle East theatres of war.

Wars initiated because of so called “weapons of mass destruction “which never existed whilst the “home bush fires burn.”

The Australian Government is spending billions of dollars on a theatre of war in an area where they shouldn’t be and without any real objective and perceived outcome.

The existing volunteer fire force in all regions should be complemented by a permanent federal fire and emergency trained task force ( non-military) which can be deployed on very short notice with the help of satellite fire detection.

That force should consist of people, not trained in warfare, but regularly trained for emergency situations - personnel who can be dropped in to inaccessible areas by helicopter to commence firefighting when the fire is in its very early stage.

Monies from the defence budget should be diverted to the purchase of water bomber aircraft and water crane helicopters to form part of that federal emergency task force.