Like so many others in East Gippsland and more generally throughout the numerous other areas of Australia that are currently burning, our community in Metung* has been looking down the barrel of devastating bushfires. To date we have been lucky with prevailing winds generally blowing the flames away from us. We are all of course acutely aware that when the wind assists us it does so by driving the fires towards other communities further to the north making it difficult for us to feel good about dodging successive bullets.
For those of us who have previously not experienced bushfires first hand (myself included), we have developed a much clearer appreciation of what it feels like to be in this catastrophic and unprecedented emergency. We still face the possibility of loss of property or life – our own or family and friends – and the possibility of this happening is sobering to say the least.
The emergency services, and particularly our wonderful CFA have done, and continue to do, a magnificent job. We are so proud of you. We are also amazed at the resilience of our communities and the will they have shown to keep going in the face of an unfolding tragedy. Our governments, Federal and State are to be congratulated on their various responses. And it is fantastic to hear of generous donations to the bushfire appeals from home and overseas and for these we should be very grateful. So what else can we say?
There is a view that it is not the right thing to focus on climate policy in the midst of a catastrophe – that it is not the right time to point out that this has all been predicted by climate science for quite some time.[see Tom Beer blog] It may not be a good time to say “told you so” and any discussion should certainly not detract from fighting the fires, from rescue operations, from supporting our fire fighters and from assisting those who have lost out to the tragedies, whether that assistance be by action or financial support. However, in my view, it is acceptable to continue to analyse our politicians focus or lack thereof, on the issue of climate policy – in the same way as John Howard and Tim Fisher focused on gun policy in the midst of Port Arthur’s tragedy.
I recently wrote about my frustration with the Morrison Government’s approach to all-things climate change. I will not go over this again in writing this piece, other than to acknowledge minister David Littleproud’s denunciation of back bencher Craig Kelly’s comment to UK TV – comments which have the propensity to make the Australian government look particularly out of touch with reality. But we do need to take this opportunity to encourage our politicians to step back and review where we are at now. If we do nothing to improve our climate policy we will be judged very poorly by our children and theirs.
(To be Continued)
*first distributed around the Metung village