Bushfire action symptomatic of slow response

By Geoff Adams

Like all other hard working Aussies, it was great to have the Christmas break to relax and enjoy family and some down time.

Like all other Australians, I was horrified to sit in shock and watch as such large tracts of land were razed by out-of-control bushfires.

Millions of hectares destroyed, millions of native animals wiped out, huge numbers of livestock burned to death, houses torched and far too many people killed.

The Federal Government was ridiculously slow to react, and through the crisis I could not help but draw similarities with their poor performance on water management.

It was not the right time or place to try and make any public comment about our water issues while these fires were still raging, but during the waiting process, as expected, the evidence has arrived in our laps — in the form of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, which was a plan put together at the same time Scottie from Marketing took over the helm of the Liberal leadership.

This report pointed out the dire effects of climate change-related natural disasters, of unimaginable scale, in unprecedented combinations — especially on power, water and telecommunications.

The co-author of the plan, Mark Crosweller — the former Home Affairs public servant who led the work into the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework — was horrified the report has never been published, and nor has there been any tangible implementation of this plan to address enormous costs and losses to vulnerable areas such as rural and regional water supply, especially to agriculture.

The most common thread between fire and water management was the absolute requirement for politicians to not only have the will to take notice and form some action, but it was essential there needed to be some compassion and empathy to structure security going forward to avoid such massive devastation as was suggested in the report.

Instead we have Morrison and Littleproud standing shoulder to shoulder again, almost denying any knowledge of the paper and definite in their combined refusal to take any blame for lack of action.

We in the agricultural world of NO WATER have only been arguing the point for the last 14 years about the total and utter stupidity of water management, that continues to allow a massive waste of such a valuable resource that has rendered most of the best land in NSW and Victoria totally devoid of any food or fodder production.

These subsequent losses cost the communities further billions of dollars and force a complete inability by irrigated agriculture to be able to even help out our fire victim fellow farmers in the hills with free hay or stock agistment, because our properties have been blowing dust for two years.

This is the consequence of a zero water allocation from the dam storages that have been up to 80 per cent full over the same period, but mostly wasted out to sea.

The fire damage is reportedly going to cost us a budget surplus.

While recently in Canberra, protesting, we were fortunate enough to coincidentally meet up with a group of 29 ex-firefighters, who were staying at the same motel, and we were having breakfast together.

After listening to the details of their plight, I felt obliged to inform them they had another eight to 10 years of lobbying and that there would be billions of dollars in damage before this Liberal National Party would be remotely interested in any facts they wish to submit.

Darcy Hare

Graeme Pyle