Bushfire crisis: too many people are feeding outrage and ignoring facts

Right now we are seeing the best and worst of the Australian community in the midst of a devastating event. Rural firefighters should be commended for their bravery and indefatigable commitment to serving us all. Generous Australians are offering their homes to displaced people and donating what they can. State, federal and local governments are coordinating around the clock in response to this devastating and unprecedented disaster.

Yet, we are also seeing the worst of Australia. We are seeing a vicious campaign led by trolls on social media to target political opponents, namely Scott Morrison, public enemy number one.

Let’s look at some facts surrounding this crisis and try to cut through the hysteria being shared on social media.

FACT ONE – The Federal Government has been responding since November 8.

The federal defence department has been offering support and reinforcements since November 8. Every request from state governments has been promptly granted. Today, the ADF helped evacuate residents and visitors from Mallacoota. As David Crowe accurately reported in today’s Age: They have been refuelling aerial tankers, providing vehicles and drivers for search and rescue operations, serving meals to firefighters and providing accommodation for volunteers.

You can find further details here: https://news.defence.gov.au/national/defence-boosts-bushfire-support

FACT TWO – Emergency management is a state government responsibility.

While the federal government has been clear that all support it can provide will be granted, fire management is and remains a state responsibility.

Morrison was criticised on video for not funding the rural fire service enough, but this is ultimately not his responsibility.

You can find further details here via the CFA: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/who-does-what

FACT THREE – Reports that the NSW government cut money from the Rural Fire Service are not accurate.

ABC Fact Check investigated this claim and its verdict was that it ‘doesn’t stack up’.

You can read that report here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-05/fact-check-are-nsw-firefighters-facing–budget-cuts/11747396

FACT FOUR – Hazard reduction burns are more complicated than they appear, so it is equally unhelpful to just blame ‘greenies’ for the problem.

ABC Fact Checker ran an investigation into the complexity of hazard reduction burns that you can find here:


FACT FIVE: ABC Gippsland reported in September that protesters forced a reduction in a hazard reduction burn.

The original plan was 370 hectares. This was reduced to 9 hectares. ABC Gippsland has since deleted this post from Facebook.

FACT SIX: Australian governments, state or federal, Labor or Liberal, are not directly responsible for the fires.

Blaming the federal government directly for the fires, as rhetorically convenient as it might be, does not stand up to scrutiny or rationality. Australia emits 1.3% of global emissions. However, Australia is the biggest exporter of coal. As The Conversation reported earlier this year, if this was factored in, Australia’s emissions climb to above 4%.

You can find that report here: https://theconversation.com/how-to-answer-the-argument-that-australias-emissions-are-too-small-to-make-a-difference-118825

Australia is the highest emitter of carbon per capita in the world. Still, it does not follow that a country with low carbon emissions can directly, on its own, be responsible for the changing climate that is exacerbating the fires.

FACT SEVEN: Australia’s emissions are lowering, but its policies are subject to international criticism.

Australia’s emissions have dropped 12.9% since 2005. During the same time, China’s emissions have risen 67 per cent, alongside India rising even more at 77 per cent. Energy minister, Angus Taylor, wrote this last week. The Guardian fact checked this claim. It found the claim to be accurate; however, it pointed out that the main emission reductions in Australia have been due to a reduction in land use.

You can find that report here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/31/fact-checking-angus-taylor-does-australia-have-a-climate-change-record-to-be-proud-of

Unfortunately, most people are sharing hit pieces, outrage inducing headlines or memes on social media, and this is all of the information they are getting. Hopefully this helps people to be better informed. Stay safe, everyone.

22 Comments on Bushfire crisis: too many people are feeding outrage and ignoring facts

    • it is more extraordinary that people are blamingthe PM for something that isn’t his fault. They have no idea what is being done and they make false statements about their policies. Your ok with that tho apparently?

  1. You’re not going to edit the article and correct the error I pointed out?

  2. Michael McEneany // January 6, 2020 at 10:24 am // Reply

    Lots of facts there that unfortunately are themselves “spin” put forward … i.e FACT TWO – Emergency management is a state government responsibility… so is Health, education, roads and infrastructure.. yet for these and for the environment which these bushfires fall under we have Federal ministers.. for a reason.. we needed the government to step up at a federal level.. four months ago.. including the full response of our defence forces which in the past 24 hours has seen the allowance of defence forces of other nations like New Zealand join the fight.. just a thought on balance.

    • There are limitations on what the defence forces can do. However they have been involved since before Morrison went on his ill advised holiday. So you seem to have no point on that.

      Why do we have federal health minister? Well perhaps I can tell you about these little schemes we have called PBS & Medicare. There are health responsibilities that states do not do. There are also federal owned hospitals.

      Roads are looked after by three different govt levels. It depends on the kind of road as to if your local council does it or your state govt or federal govt.

      State govts often undertake infrastructure projects for which they are unable to pay themselves. They request funding from federal govt for this.

      Federal govt provides funding for every single student in the country. States provide little to no funding for private schools.

      For natural disasters & bushfires the federal govt has no responsibility at all unlike every example you gave. A better comparison would be ask about federal minister for local government. Is there one? That is something federal govt don’t control because local govt exists in most states simply because an act of state parliament says they do.

      This article points out some of the way the federal govt has been involved and yet you say they need to step up. Why? They already are stepping up.

      • Michael McEneany // January 7, 2020 at 1:21 pm //

        Far from “limitations”, we are seeing now fully what the Defence department can do, it is clear from your replies in many posts here your “one eye” has clouded how the LNP has mishandled this problem since August.. you feeble attempt to justify why federal education, health and minsters along with the environment, Indigenous Australians,Agriculture,Trade, Tourism and Investment,Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business,Industry, Science and Technology,Energy and Emissions Reduction,Defence,Families and Social Services,Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government,Aged Care and Senior Australians needed to be involved as far back as September shows your lack of understanding on how Gog=verments work from planning right down to funding.

  3. Barbara bayley // January 6, 2020 at 10:30 am // Reply

    I just watched an interview with a retired chief who has had many years of experience it would appear that the PM is not listening to people in the know. I’m not in the habit of name and Shame or criticism but if the PM would meet all those with years of experience the indigenous people who have knowledge and respect for the land and listen and take advice. I just hope this will happen in the future although it’s already heartbreaking to witness this catastrophe Hope sense prevails

  4. Alexander Muir // January 6, 2020 at 1:24 pm // Reply

    FACT EIGHT: There is no overarching policy or strategy to deal with the management of our forests and bush fires. The approach is one of response to bush fires rather than reduction of bush fires.

    FACT NINE: Co-ordination between the various governments is poorly managed.

    FACT TEN: There has been little or no leadership in this instance, leaving people to their own devices.

  5. Warren Foster // January 6, 2020 at 2:41 pm // Reply

    FACT EIGHT: There is no evidence to support the claim that having a spiritual connection with the land, indigenous knowledge or indigenous respect for the land gives you an advantage over experts when planning or performing hazard reduction burning.

  6. Karen Edyvane // January 6, 2020 at 3:04 pm // Reply

    This article was written by Dale Hughes, member of the Victorian Liberals – and is clearly part of the LNP’s shameful disinformation campaign. The facts presented are HIGHLY selective. And clearly focused to shift blame away from ScoMo appalling lack of national leadership. Despite his shameful performance, the Murdoch media has given ScoMo and the LNP a ‘dream ride’. The only “trolls” in this current bushfire debate are the LNP who are using social media (yet again), spread lies and misinformation. If you want accurate information on the bushfires, listen directly to the experts – the fire chiefs, the CSIRO, BOM – don’t believe the lies and propaganda of the LNP and Murdoch media. ThoughHub should NOT be posting this information, with clearly identifying the author – and his political affiliations.

    • If they have given them a dream ride then why not have a go at other media who refuse to do a story on a state premier who went on holidays while here were fires in her state including some listed as out of control. No instead they have only focused on liberals who have gone on holidays. Where is your integrity? You call bias so provide a link to your condemnation of media who will not condemn Qld LABOR premier in the same way they have the PM or NSW emergency services minister.

  7. Turn around, revolve, yes, that’s It…… S P I N. Fact 8, Scomo appears almost indifferent. Where are his advisors and minders? Hawaii??

  8. Just trying to shift the blame once again, all governments over the past 10 years have granted greenies wishes to gain there seats, we have had to listen to this political nightmare every election, On the radio on tv, Our Government regardless of whom gets in, all banter with greenies etc to get there seats for support, I just wish we could become a republic, elect one person, whom uses advisers to make the Decisions on what is best for this country Australia, but no it’s all about wheeling and dealing, give me this, I’ll give you that, Morrison is just the unlucky current pm that has to answer for AustraliaS poor governing over the last decade

  9. There is always going to be a percentage of the population who is always going to blame Prime ministers and governments for anything and everything because they are not smart enough to know otherwise or take responsibility for their lives. People who think they are intelligent are not necessarily smart either as we see in our Universities so the smart people will always see through the greenie, do-gooder, woe is me individuals that love to deflect their own incompetence on the likes of our Prime Ministers and Governments. I say, stop being critical and bleating about rubbish and make a useful contribution! You might like yourself a bit more!

  10. Chris Gough // January 7, 2020 at 9:51 am // Reply

    25M Population, 7 state and territory Gvts ,all with their noses n the trough and fighting about everything ,from national recog for license, qualifications hospital medical services and education syllabus. Time to shut them all down ,we waste billions on unnecessary duplication and mediocrity . Take a look at SA after Wetherall for christ sake!!

  11. Lynette martin // January 7, 2020 at 10:01 am // Reply

    We have had this problem a long time, we need to allow the cattle to clear the undergrowth in the Forrest, and we need to do back burning like we use to and to finish that pipe line started in 1938 can you imagine the good that would have done we have one for gas, and allow dams to be built in a safe place.We need to stop treating farmers worst then Immigrants and start putting our money and goods back into Australia where it will do the most good.All this money they are forking out now, can you
    Imagine the good it would have done if it had gone into prevention instead of damage. We are all to blame in one way or another , come on we are Aussie let get on to it, animals cannot do it, it is our responsibility. Make a santuary for wild life instead of destroying their places to live, we can live together with care and without greed.

  12. And the vitriol blaming the Greens for it all despite them having hazard reduction burns policies is fair?? This article really is a joke. More political divisive clapteap.

  13. Paul Wickham // January 8, 2020 at 7:32 am // Reply

    Are the greenies still blaming the current fire situation on climate change?
    Climate change wasn’t even thought of in 1930s!

    What we had in 1939 is why the CFA was formed.
    I believe we’ve had at least 2 Royal Commissions into bushfires in Victoria alone. Why haven’t the responsible level of Governments (State and Local) implemented fully the recommendations from these hearings?
    Federal Governments distribute funding to various State and Local Governments where recommended, they have no responsibility for Fire management. Do the Feds provide Police or ambo’s or Jails? No, these are all State duties. Feds provide National security like ASIO or Federal Police, Army etc… Blaming the PM for bushfires is like blaming a State Premier for invading Iraq.

  14. Roderick Chalmers // January 8, 2020 at 11:44 am // Reply

    We are all experts in hindsight. And so we come to the so called expertise of the retired fire commissioners. It must be remembered that these individuals were the responsible managers of fire control and abatement over the last decade or so. So if we need to sheet home blame on any group, other than the State Governments, then this group of yesterdays “experts” seem to match the criteria. No wonder the Prime Minister didn’t want to meet with them, they have no worthwhile contribution to make to the discussion over and above what is available from the present fire commissioners.

  15. In today’s world the common reaction to difficult situations is to attack your opposition. This lead comes from the very top of politics and so it is not surprising that others take the same action. Instead of addressing the issues and looking forward and providing leadership it seems that tearing one another apart is the acceptable action to take.
    The reaction of some bush fire victims, to the Prime Minister’s appearance in their midst, was not totally unexpected. People are hurting and frightened and were perhaps wondering why this tragic event was not foreseen and addressed sooner. We might argue that even political leaders cannot look into the future, but with scientists, emergency chiefs, past and present who had requested meetings with our leaders and fire fighting personel, warning of the potential danger with drought conditions and no end in sight, perhaps a meeting of State and Federal leaders might have been appropriate well before summer.
    This terrible set of circumstances has to be seen as a likely scenario in future and acknowledged. I am not interested in the political survival of leaders. They are temporary at best. I am however, interested in the survival of our people and the country they depend on.

  16. Martin VOWLES // January 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm // Reply

    These are HEADLINE grab “facts” only. Have any of the FRONT LINE Fire fighting units ever been advised of EXACTLY what Resources and Manpower are available to them from the ADFS and how they can have them service a defensive action plan???
    How they can have these Resources deployed and available on Stand by or put into action – NO – NEVER – NOT ONCE – These FULL of CRAP Federal Government Wanks make the same sort of Big Bold Statements, as the leaders of Giant Corporations do, Knowing full well that there is a system of diffusion below them. The Country is being run by 5 minute wonders, and kept in place by a vast majority of “Australians” complacent in their own 5 minute worlds. These events are in no way “Unforeseen”. They have been advise of, spoken about, reported on by thousands of experts and experienced people across the Nation. Warning of such to all forms of Politicians and Bureaucrats for years – The complacent, the ignorant and those complicit of their total and complete “Dereliction of Duty” and total “Disregard of their responsibilities” are responsible for the loss experienced to date and that is yet still to come. The decisions of Government to deregulate and constantly cut back in the areas, that fall responsible for “LAND MANAGEMENT” know that is the cause of the situations we are in today – The loss of life is their doing.

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