Hopefully at the next federal election the politicians’ election tactic of creating fear about a pending terrorist threat will be abandoned and replaced by a promise of a more applicable and useful action such as averting a real and increasing threat – that of bushfires.
Re-reading Lyndall Rowley’s article , “Zero tolerance of fires in Australia” in the ‘Tasmanian Times’ (15th February 2016 HERE) and also by observing the voluminous responses to her article it is obvious that the increase in bushfires 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 claptrap 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 Tasmanian politicians in their acknowledgement of the firefighters’ commitment.
Some of the firefighters will again be involved in the hopeless task of attending to bushfires in Tasmania, as well as bushfires in other parts of Australia, whilst politicians continue to play political games.
The many reactions to Lyndall Rowley, Claire Gilmour and Patrick Synge’s articles, must tell politicians 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 lack of preparedness to deal with the ever increasing number of bushfires.
Many elderly people in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have last year been inhaling heavily smoke laden air – and in NSW as recently as this week and this has no doubt been damaging their health.
Surely Tasmanian hospitals must have had a great increase in admissions related to respiratory and cardiac 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 bushfires in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria.
But we were warned of the Government’s inaptitude after Tony Abbot’s comment, ”Australia has always had bush fires and always will.” So no further action was proposed despite the new available technology.
Never mind the continued underfunded and inadequate state firefighting units manned by part-time volunteers – conservatism will romanticise the inadequacies as a cultural inheritance.
Politicians were quick to respond to the traditional vote winners of security and border protection.
Australian deaths due to worldwide 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.
Since 2003, the frequency of bushfires 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 and border control in the hope that it will 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 firefighters 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 bushfires 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 positive 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.
Bob Lubout is a ‘climate refugee’ from Perth WA. He has been living in Penguin on the NW coast of Tasmania with his artist partner Sandra and their two dogs, Tessie and Winston since 2013. He went to Curtin University as a ‘mature age student’ where he gained a Bachelor of Education majoring in Sociology and Politics and then onto Murdoch University where he continued his studies for a Master’s in Education and Science and Technology Policy. He worked as a TAFE lecturer, teaching electronics, maths, science and aviation. Bob now enjoys spending his time researching and writing and flying around this beautiful part of the world in a small aircraft.