NEWS THAT MATTERS

Flood victims feel abandoned

The eastern seaboard of NSW from Queensland to Sydney has taken a devastating pounding from heavy rain and catastrophic flooding, destroying property and lives and leaving people feeling abandoned by the Morrison Government. Instead of taking responsibility for anything, they put out press releases on everything to coverup their failure, while Prime Minister Morrison prioritises seeking political advantage far above his responsibility to serve everyday Australians.

Scott Morrison has shown over and over again that he is the bloke who goes missing when the country really needs him. When he does re emerge it's always too little, too late.

11 March 2022

ALAN HAYES

 

ANOTHER catastrophic natural disaster, and where was the Federal Government? Everywhere, people in the flood-affected areas are asking the same question. When the army did arrive in Lismore  last Tuesday (8 March) one resident said on national television news, “the army’s arrived, you’ve gotta be kidding. Where have they been?”

 

Where was the army up until now? Where was Peter Dutton, Minister for Defence hiding and why hadn’t he acted far more quickly to employ military personnel to flood-affected areas? Where was the acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and where was Scott Morrison once he arose from his Covid bed? Scott Morrison aka Slomo Escargot and his government have been completely missing in action, failing to deal with the flood crisis as a matter of national emergency.

 

Where was the Federal Government resources to help the community? It should have been getting its hands dirty immediately to get the arduous flood aftermath clean-up done? Amidst the devastation people were looking around, looking for help from the Federal Government that was noticeably missing in action.

 

Scott Morrison has shown over and over again that he is the bloke who goes missing when the country really needs him. During the bush fires, he went missing. When it came to getting vaccines for the country, he and his government went missing. When it came to getting rapid antigen tests for the country, he went missing. And now during the flood crisis, he and his government have been missing in action. Australians need a leader who shows up when times get tough. They need a leader who actually gets resources to communities when they need them, not a week later, not when the photos are available, not when the TV cameras are available, but when people need them. That's not what communities have had from the Morrison Government or from the Prime Minister. It’s always too little, too late from Scott Morrison – not show up for the cameras and the announcement but actually show up when people need help.

 

On Wednesday of this week Scott Morrison was scheduled to show up at Lismore at 1.30 pm but was a no-show for the community. When he finally arrived that day, like a coward, he sneaked in through the back door so that he would not have to face the waiting people when he arrived at the flood-stricken community.

 

“He at least could have had the decency to come and address the people affected. He just slipped in the back door,” said Lismore resident Kate Stroud, who lost everything in the flood.

 

Stroud said there were about 300 people waiting for the Prime Minister to arrive and who wanted to hear directly from him.

 

“He refused to come out,” said Ms. Stroud.

 

“He didn’t hear first-hand how it’s affected us and what we need. We know what we need.”

 

She said the community were struggling and felt the response had been lacklustre from the government.

 

“The Amy have been in the CBD but they have not been out helping people who live in the surrounding areas,” Ms. Stroud said.

 

“It’s disturbing. It feels like we are the forgotten people in the Northern Rivers, we need solid inspiring responsive leadership.”

 

Solid inspiring and responsive leadership is not something residents in the NSW northern Rivers district received from Scott Morrison. Instead, true to form, Scott Morrison, in front of the media and cameras, gave a stage-managed performance, protected from the public, as the verbal diarrhoea flooded apace from his mouth. But when it came to the media, Scott Morrison was not prepared to allow them to accompany him whilst he spoke to SES volunteers. Why? This is a man who thrives on media attention.

 

Morrison’s rhetoric, however, was uninspiring; not wanting to face the people and actually confront the flood crisis the Prime Minister, as always, blamed something and someone else – “it’s not really our problem to solve, it’s those pesky other countries overseas.” His answer to the demoralizing and ruinous floods was to blame developing countries whose emissions continue to rise. Then, with a mouthful of BS, he was into the nitty gritty, banging on about how Australia’s approach to the net zero emissions target is to rely on the hope of yet-to-be-invented technology at some future date.

 

“If you can achieve that,” said Morrison, “you can get a warm fuzzy feeling here in Australia and I think it’s great that we have reduced emissions by 20% and I think it’s great we’ve got a commitment to get to net zero by 2050. But the real challenge of addressing climate change is ensuring that we’re working with other countries in the region and particularly developing countries to ensure we have the technology, the changes that will grow their economies and that’s what Australia is seeking to do and as a leader in the world I am seeking to do.”

 

Maybe the nation needs to include a new category in the Order of Australia Awards, ‘Verbal Diarrhoea’, because Scott Morrison’s flimflam knows no bounds, making him a sure winner. That’s more than likely the only vote he’ll get from the Lismore and northern rivers residents.

 

The people of Lismore, and everywhere else that’s been stricken by the floods, didn’t want a gospel lecture, from behind closed doors, on climate change according to the ‘Book of Scott’! They want a prime minister who actually gets out and talks to the people in times of an emergency; talks to real people and hears directly from them about what’s gone wrong, and what they need to go forward. People don’t want to learn that their concerns about the future are no more than series of ‘photo ops’ and meaningless announcements.

 

Now that Scott Morrison is out of Covid isolation he should face the people, apologise on behalf of his government for being ‘missing in action’ when it comes to a natural disaster.

 

So, why won't the Prime Minister face the people who's lives have been impacted by the floods? He's terrified that there's going to be some repeat of what happened in Cobargo during the Black Summer bushfires; the forced handshake and people giving him a mouthful. He is afraid to face the anger of the people! If you've been stuck on a roof for days with your kids and the dog, and you get rescued by the next-door neighbour, and you run into the Prime Minister on the street, you're probably going to give him a pretty good mouthful.

 

Scott Morrison must realise that being Prime Minister is about fronting up. It's about being there on good days and bad days, and it's being prepared to talk to Australians, whether they're happy to see you or whether they are angry that you weren't there when they needed you.

 

Scott Morrison needs to explain to the flood victims why his government has refused to use their nearly $5 billion Emergency Response Fund (ERF) at any point over the past three years, either to help people to recover from past disasters, or to build the flood mitigation projects that could have protected people from future disasters.

 

The Prime Minister needs to explain why the ERF is earning interest for the government rather than helping people in the way that it was designed to do. No one will ever know what could have been avoided if the government had been prepared to use its $5 billion Emergency Response Fund to build flood levees, to improve drainage systems and do all sorts of other flood mitigation measures that could have saved lives, saved properties and saved the billions of dollars that will now see taxpayers having to cough up in repair costs.

 

And the people want to know why did it took so long for Slomo Escargot to declare a national emergency? Twenty-one people are dead from the floods and Lismore was underwater for nine days before Scott Morrison finally acted. Why does this keep happening? The nation saw a similar debacle by Scott Morrison during the Black Summer bushfires. It wasn’t until he was shamed into action that he came back from Hawaii and, if you think back to it, you’ll remember after the Black Summer bushfires, and even through the Black Summer bushfires, Scott Morrison was having arguments with state governments about whether he could send in the Army, how many personnel he would send in, and when he would send them in.

 

If you shake up the brain cells even more, you’ll remember that Scott Morrison asked the parliament to give him new emergency powers, the power to declare a national emergency. He said that this would help him cut through the red tape, mobilise Commonwealth resources, and act with “swift and decisive action”.

 

And what about the Central Coast?

 

There is no doubt that Coasties who have impacted by flood haven't appeared on Scott Morrison's radar. Geoffrey Road Chittaway Point is still flooded and power is only now being restored, residents of the Yarramalong Valley were cut of by flood waters and isolated for days and many other areas of the Central Coast have also been severely flood-impacted. But where was the Morrison Government? Like everywhere else they were missing in action!

 

Let’s be realistic, if there's anything that Australians need in times of a national emergency from the Commonwealth Government, is swift and decisive action. And that's exactly what has been missing over the course of the unfolding flood disaster. The flood crisis is ‘Morrison history’ repeating itself, always taking too long to act.

 

The last three years have starkly revealed a Prime Minister who naturally shirks responsibility and someone who happily blame-shifts to states and territories whenever he can. And while the flood victims help each other pull through this latest challenge, amongst the mud and the destroyed belongings piled on the sidewalks of the flood-affected towns, Scott Morrison yet again showed that he was a man who leaves every decision to the last minute and then does as little as possible.

 

What the country doesn’t need is a Prime Minister to wait for TV cameras before declaring a national emergency? Those who step back during a crisis aren’t worthy of the title of government. They are frauds or charlatans, and Australia deserves better.

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