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The Politics of Fire By James Reed
The climate change fanatics have been up and at it, not only about the terrible bushfires, but the on-going 100-year floods along the east coast, which they call extreme weather events, even though all of this has happened before. And, as this great article referenced below indicates, as usual incompetence and obfuscation have more to do with the bushfires that any grand climate change:
“I reject the ‘blame it on climate change” position because it has two killer flaws: firstly, it ignores fuels, which are the main contributor to uncontrollable fires during a drought; secondly, it provides no practical solutions to the immediate problem. Both of these factors render the climate change argument utterly unsustainable, indeed ridiculous. It is very obvious who the people are who should be held accountable for the current mess. At the top of the list are the premiers and ministers responsible for land management, such as it is, and bushfire policy, and the public servants in their departments with jurisdiction over forests and national parks. State governments in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have palpably failed to do the most important job they were elected to do: protect the lives and livelihoods of their citizens and the health of their environment. And their public servants have failed to do the job they are being paid to do: serve the public. Under the Australian Constitution land management, and therefore bushfire management, is the responsibility of the states. It is state governments which decide how crown land will be managed, and how the protection of communities and their assets from bushfire damage will be organised.
Local government authorities are also high on the list of those accountable — and here again state governments bear responsibility, as they should never have allowed them to get away with the nonsenses we have seen coming out of town halls over recent years with respect to vegetation clearing and building approvals. Some premier or minister should have cracked down hard on this foolishness, and cracked down hard. Of all the things that perplex me about the current mess the most significant is this: the blatant ignoring by premiers, ministers and agency bureaucrats of the warnings of bushfire scientists that a disaster was imminent and, on top of that, their failure to study bushfire history. Our climate, even the ‘pre-climate-change climate’, our vegetation and the abundant sources of ignition mean that we are inherently a bushfire-prone country. And even on top of all that, our governments and bureaucrats have been provided, over and over and over again, with evidence that killer bushfires will occur in Australia unless pre-emptive action is taken. Not just here, but in California, Canada, Greece and Portugal — anywhere in the world with hot dry summers, periodic droughts and flammable vegetation.
Yet despite the science, the evidence presented by bushmen, the dramatic history of this contininent’s relationship with fire, and the findings of numerous inquiries, successive governments in Qld, NSW and Victoria over the last 25 years have consistently failed to prepare potential firegrounds in the expectation of the inevitable. Not only this, they seem to have actually go out of their way to make things worse: the cut-backs to fuel reduction burning, the closure of access roads and trails in national parks, the decimation of professional forestry and fire management expertise, the turning of the blind eye to the creation of residential subdivisions in capable of being defended, the funding of “research” in the universities that is aimed at making the job of the firefighter more difficult, and the erection of a complex bureaucratic edifices that hinder sensible bushfire preparedness and make fuel-reduction burning almost impossible.
One of the consequences of the deliberate destruction of the forestry profession and forestry district structures and crews has been that governments now have to fall back on volunteers to fight forest fires. My heart goes out to the vollies who are being sent into our state forests and national parks to tackle high intensity forest fires burning amid heavy fuel loads. They are being asked to do the impossible. On top of all this, those of us who have spent a lifetime dealing with bushfires have watched with dismay the way the state agencies, one after the other, have been seduced into thinking that more and bigger water-bombing aircraft is the answer to the bushfire maiden’s prayer. The almost laughable futility of the water and retardant bombers in NSW over recent weeks has only been surpassed by one other shocking statistic: the astronomical cost of this wastefulness.’
As usual, our politicians, federal, state and at the local government level, have continued the grand tradition of letting us down. What else is new?