You know what, I am outraged about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s holiday. I am outraged that a social media campaign, led by people still bitter about the May 18 election, seeks to exploit a crisis to prosecute their political agenda and hound a man into submission. That’s what I’m outraged about.
Two people have died fighting the fires, and dullards who only need the faintest whiff of an excuse to spew their bile could not jump on social media quickly enough to make hay from the tragedy. Let’s be frank: the majority of the people complaining don’t actually care about the fires or those who fight them. What they care about is prosecuting their political agenda against someone who they would never vote for anyway. The fires are just a convenient excuse.
Note how even the Australian Labor Party has largely been silent in their criticism of Morrison. This is to their credit. Why? Because they understand that there’s little more he can do than show up for a photo opportunity while comforting victims (which he has already done – see image). One might say that Morrison could help fight the fires himself, but we had a Prime Minister who did that once. He was hounded out of office by the same people.
You have probably missed it, but this is just some of what the Morrison government has been doing in response to the fires: (*all sources listed below in case you wish to check)
- An extra $11 million in emergency funding has been allocated to support the firefighting effort.
- Since November 8, the Australian Defence Force has provided jets to transfer firefighters, air support, refuelling and water supply and lent out some of its bases for storing equipment.
- From November 8 to February 1, Air Force is providing airlift support to move large groups of firefighters and their equipment between interstate locations.
- From November 17 to December 22, Army is supplying personnel to prepare and cook three meals a day for 250 firefighters at the Rural Fire Service staging ground in the Northern Rivers Region, NSW. This support is to enable respite for the volunteers who have been providing meals.
- Since November 29, HMAS Albatross has assisted with water refuelling and retardant loading of aircraft fighting the Currowan fires from Naval Air Station Nowra. Seven New South Wales Rural Fire Service aircraft continue to operate from Nowra, comprising four fixed-wing and three helicopters.
- From November 26 to January 13, Army is providing the New South Wales Rural Fire Service with ground logistic support for the movement of vehicles, stores and equipment in the Wauchope, Glen Innes, Kempsey, Casino, Wollondilly and Hawkesbury areas.
- On December 20, support provided from RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia, to refuel two Large Aircraft Tankers fighting fires near Cudlee Creek and Munno Para.
- For more information, check the defence department website: https://news.defence.gov.au/national/defence-continues-bushfire-support
What this entire episode shows is the dissonance between real action and symbolism. People on social media love a clever quote or a compelling photo or a heartwarming video. What they don’t take the time to look for is substance and real action. Morrison trusts cabinet process. He trusts that Australia’s ministers and their departments can manage in his absence, if only for a few days. I wonder how many people who just could not wait to smash their keyboards while chugging down a soy frappuccino (too hot for a cappuccino) actually looked further than The Guardian’s outrage inducing headlines to read what real experts have to say about the crisis on the ground.
Here’s what the Australasian National Council for Fire and Emergency Services said about the Federal Government’s response on December 21:
The National Council for fire and emergency services (AFAC) welcomes the increase in Federal Government funding for Australia’s aerial firefighting capacity for 2019/20 announced by the Prime Minister on Thursday 12 December.
The lift of $11 million, in addition to an existing $15 million provided by the Commonwealth annually, will provide the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) with additional capacity to engage and extend critical aerial assets supporting firefighting efforts across Australia.
Here is also what they said about support received, as reported:
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (Afac) said cross-state firefighting resources were funnelled and distributed across the country where they had been requested, by its national resource sharing centre.
“While many volunteers are not available to travel far from their homes or interstate due to local responsibilities, employment or managing drought-stricken stock that require daily feeding, others are prepared to deploy,” Afac said.
It said there was integrated engagement with the commonwealth and national protocols for managing incident responses and the available fleet of 140 aircraft and international personnel.
“Australia has never been better prepared to face natural disasters,” it said.
Surprised? Probably. Because the main thing that has been reported is the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group. They are a LOBBY group of FORMER firefighters who are only too happy to critique the current PM. Yet what’s interesting is what happens when you go to the source: emergency workers, defence personnel, and actual authorities charged with coordinating the efforts on the ground.
Please do not let social media dictate the national narrative. The outrage is being fueled by bitter, angry people sitting in sumptuous, air conditioned homes who only care about one thing: vengeance for losing the ‘unloseable election’ in May.