At four in the morning, my daughter came in having had a very scary dream about the fires coming extremely close to our house. As I gave her a cuddle, I thought about the costs of this fire season – both measurable and immeasurable. Our daughter has often been anxious about the idea of bush-fires but this time, it was harder to reassure her. And what about all the kids who really have suffered trauma? And the adults? And all the animals – native and introduced? And then the infrastructure. And the people who have lost family members. And the fire brigade members who witnessed it all. And the evacuees who don’t have homes to go back to. And the regeneration time of the land and the communities. And the extinctions which may result.
This morning in the Sydney Morning Herald was an article about how our PM plans to call for an Inquiry into the fires, including a broad range of areas such as Climate Change, fuel build up etc. I should be cheering, right? But in the same article, he denied that his party has been opposed to the idea of Climate Change causing the fires. He denied that his party have been reticent about Climate Change policy. He would deny his own name if he thought it would win him an election. When did it become normal for politicians to completely ignore the fact that they are on record pretty much every time they speak in public? How can they deny their own words and not be spat on in sheer disgust?
If there is an Inquiry, its scope had better include the Australian Government’s handling of information and scientific evidence that has been publicly available for decades. And the scope should also include the Australian Media and the requirement for transparent differentiation of fact and opinion.
Ross Garnaut presented his Climate Change Review in September 2008. So many of his predictions are coming true and yet… what exactly has been done in those intervening years? To my mind, an Inquiry is likely a further time waster in the mind of our PM. He perceives that the time it will take to organize and enact an Inquiry will get him past the next election and he can delay having to answer to the lobbyists from the coal and gas industries.
As I write, I have loved ones facing a scary day of heat and high winds and possible ember attack. Of course I wish they would evacuate. But does the PM understand the pull to defend something precious? A value less measurable than his bank account? An emotion less malleable than his idea of truth?
I hardly know what to hope for from this slippery man (our PM). He just happens to be the PM now. It is not all his doing. But I could definitely hope for a better leader at this time.
A good friend wrote to me recently “Sometimes I feel like a failure. But he is an historic failure.”
She spoke of our PM’s failure to act in the interests of his people. Her phrasing carries the weight of the future. And yet ScoMo’s shoulders seem only to support the gut of a man used to high living. They don’t seem to feel the future at all.