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Cheers - AE

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Lessons must be learned?

On a slightly different topic our state Premier, John Brumby, is making the standard political "lessons must be learned" noises. I'm not exactly clear what lessons he's talking about.
As the death toll from Australia's worst peacetime disaster climbed to 130, Mr Brumby said the traditional advice to households under threat from bushfires — "stay and defend or leave early" — may be reviewed.
Well, could be something in that. I've not been here long enough to judge and this is the first major bush fire I've been around for (having left the Blue Mountains a few days before the big fires there in 2001). But if I lived in one of these suburbs or towns right out where they meet the forests and someone knocked on my door, spoke about an approaching fire and offered me the choice of staying to defend or leaving early he'd find the end of the question was being addressed to a fucking blur heading towards the least smoky horizon.
Fire experts also claimed that inadequate fuel reduction in forests around Kinglake and other burnt-out regions of the state may have contributed to the disaster.
I'm no expert but could there ever be sufficient fuel reduction? There's only four million people or so in Victoria and the state is the size of the UK. Where is the manpower and the resources going to come from? Let's not forget that the bloody place is pretty much made to burn. I wonder if there's an element of hubris here, a desire to believe in ourselves and our ability to fix or prevent or otherwise avert natural disaster. Look at all the incredible things we can do, look at the inventions, the technology. Well, yes, we can fly to the moon (though clearly that's no trivial exercise since it hasn't been done for nearly 40 years) but what fucking use is that when faced with an earthquake, a tsunami or a big Aussie bush fire? I may be 100% utterly wrong here but as far as I can see the lessons to be learnt from this are (a) decide for yourself when to get the fuck out and (b) buy insurance.

As I said before, the authorities, especially CFA and SES, do their best and I really don't want to have a pop at the state or Commonwealth government right now. Disaster management and relief is one of the few things I think government is really good for. If Brumby is saying that there's something to be learned from every disaster then fair enough, but bearing in mind that a significant part of this is down to a small number of individual fuckwits who can't lay off the Swan Vestas I think he's doing himself, his government and the emergency services down if he's suggesting it's been a bit of a cock up. I can think of a lot of stuff the Victorian government has done that I can criticise, and normally I look at things and think how much better they'd be if the bloody government could just keep its hands off. Today I look and think how much worse it could have been.

UPDATE: I suppose this is the sort of expert criticism about inadequate fuel reduction they're on about. Hmmm. Might be something in it, but I just don't know enough about it and it still seems that everyone in the state could chuck every dollar they make at the problem and there'd still be more that could be done.
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