NEWS THAT MATTERS

Big on announcements;

big on excuses; not so good on delivery

The flood emergency in NSW and Queensland has brought home the reality of climate change and the ongoing devastating impact that it will have for future generations. As an unprecedented deluge of rain fell from the heavens, and people were forced to abandon their homes, while flood waters and debris surged through their yards, Australians suffer a federal government and prime minister who fails to listen to climate science and accept that we are in the middle of a climate crisis.

15 March 2022

ALAN HAYES

 

CHANGES to our climate were evident in the mid 1970s but no one was prepared to listen. If you dared speak up you were considered a radical and someone that should be avoided; your observations were pure bunkum.

 

I have lived my life on the principle of working in harmony with the environment; being kind to Mother Earth and treading gently and not leave a footprint so, that those that follow will enjoy what I have enjoyed – the wonderous beauty of our home in space.

 

Over the years I’ve made a career of sharing my knowledge with others so, that they too can have a quality of life that is sustainable and in-tune with the environment in which they live. I have held workshops, given lectures and shared this information through the many books that I have written.

 

In 1992, when I wrote Reclaim Recycle Reuse, a book that was endorsed by the EPA and the United Nations as an essential environment book, it included two chapters on climate change and the problems facing humans if they and government failed to act. Sadly, the publisher considered climate change too controversial at that time and deleted those two chapters from the published book.

 

It’s this same head-in-the-sand attitude that we still face today from naysayers and ineffective politicians who refuse to accept that climate change is real and accelerating to the brink of being irreversible. Australians can ill-afford a federal government and a prime minister who pin their hopes on net zero emission by 2050 on yet to be invented technology, which may never be invented, as Australia’s contribution to resolving the climate crisis.

 

Climate change is real and happening now, the devastation of which Australians witnessed from the east coast “rain bomb” that caused devastating flooding.

 

And as the aftermath of the floods unfolded, the hearts of those who weren’t affected by the disaster broke for the lives lost, the homes destroyed and the livelihoods that were left in tatters.

 

Yet, while Scott Morrison clearly demonstrated that he was too cowardly to face the people in Lismore last week, and failed to declare a national emergency when it was obvious that help was needed immediately in NSW and south-eastern Queensland, people were already spending last weekend shoveling filthy mud, alongside thousands of people who had joined the “mud army”. But what did we see from Scott Morrison? A prime minister refusing to take responsibility, refusing to be a national leader. He could have declared a national emergency when it was apparent that the floods were catastrophic, not after the event when people were pulling their lives out onto the footpaths.

 

Help was needed in Queensland and NSW when the flooding began, but with Scott Morrison help was yet again too late coming. Australians are getting tired of a prime minister that is never there when you need him, and when he's called out on it, finds someone else to blame every time. And that just what he has done now!

 

Scott Morrison has blamed the NSW and Queensland Government for refusing to ask for help – for refusing to ask for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to be sent in to the impacted flood areas.

 

The government said it had 4370 defence personnel working on the flood response with another 465 to be deployed last Thursday (10 March, after the flood waters had subsided) while a dozen ADF helicopters could provide support across northern NSW and south-east Queensland.

 

But Mr. Morrison was thrown on the defensive during a visit to the northern NSW town of Lismore on Wednesday (9 March), when he was asked why he had not delivered more aid sooner and why he had taken until Tuesday 8 March to declare the floods a natural disaster under federal law.

 

The question that is now being asked, why did Scott Morrison wait until he was surrounded by TV cameras before he declared a national emergency, which the parliament gave him the power to do over two years ago?

 

“No amount of support is going to measure up to what people need in a desperate situation like this. I’m just being honest with you,” Scott Morrison said.

 

“Every federal government would always be apologetic, and would always apologise that you’re never going to be able to provide enough support in these situations... That’s why I do apologise.”

 

So, Scott Morrison expects flood-affected communities and the rest of the nation to believe and accept that government cannot perform satisfactorily and with exceptional haste in times of a catastrophic national emergency.

 

Scott Morrison is once again making excuses and blaming someone else for his and his government’s failure to deal with the flood emergency in a timely manner. In NSW he’s blaming the State Emergency Service (SES).

 

NSW State Emergency Service commissioner Carlene York has defended a decision to reject offers of help from the army in the lead up to the state’s unprecedented flood crisis.

 

When conditions deteriorated in and around Lismore, the SES commissioner said the weather became too dangerous to allow aircraft to perform rescues.

 

Ms. York said it was “unfair” to criticise SES volunteers “putting their lives on the line every day to help the community”, adding she believed the organisation had thoroughly planned for the event.

 

“They are community members who have put their hand up, without payment, to risk their lives to help the community,” she said.

 

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet also stood by the SES, saying he didn’t want there to be a sense in the community that there had been “failures” on its part.

 

A report from The Sydney Morning Herald has also revealed that the NSW State Government made three formal requests for the ADF to help in Lismore but was offered fewer than 300 personnel on the same day the Morrison Government said it had 2000 personnel ready to go if requested.

 

The State Government made its first request for assistance on 27 February — before the full extent of the disaster hit — but did not receive any confirmation from the Federal Government about troop numbers, The Herald reported.

 

The Perrottet Government only became aware of the promise of 2000 personnel via a journalist, who obtained a statement from federal Emergency Services Minister Bridget McKenzie late on 4 March that said the troops were ready to go if the states requested them. By 5 March, the number being cited by the Federal Government had more than doubled to 5000 — but again NSW was not formally told.

 

Resilience NSW commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said it was “woefully inadequate” that he was made aware of additional troop numbers by the media.

 

“In my mind, the operational relationship with the Australian Defence Force, including the securing and integration of personnel and resources has never been better,” he said.

 

“But when you have details of numbers being released via the media, that detracts from that genuine relationship and undermines confidence and trust.”

 

The Premier has said while he would have preferred “to have as many troops on the ground as quickly as possible”, “I don’t want this to turn into NSW government at war with the Commonwealth”.

 

“The focus now should not be on blame but on being honest, working out what mistakes were made, owning them, learning from it and making sure they are never made again,” Premier Perrottet said.

 

The realpolitik of the flood disaster is that Scott Morrison should not have hesitated in declaring a national emergency. But this didn't happen, and it didn't happen because the Prime Minister - as he has shown time and time again, whether it was the bushfires two years ago, the strollout of the vaccinations, the delayed rollout of RATs - is too slow to act and too quick to blame others when things go wrong.

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