Ok, the people I was staying with had only moved into the area in the past few months, so not all the names that were being listed as in danger from the fire were familiar, but the smoke was ominous and they were implementing their fire plan, so I decided to spend Saturday night down by the coast.
Of course, times like this bring out the best in people. On the radio, offers of help were pouring in, including offers of accommodation, and I couldn’t help but think how strange the human psyche is. In a disaster, most of us help the less fortunate, but when that “disaster” is something that happens in the normal course of things, most of the community turns its back. If someone loses their home because of a fire, we help, but if they’re homeless because of economic reasons, we tend to think of it as their own fault. If someone was trapped in a natural disaster, we wouldn’t weigh up the costs of sending in a rescue helicopter, yet we’re frequently told that the government doesn’t have the money to “save” some groups of people.
Someone commented that we hadn’t heard from Tony Abbott about the bushfires in the Adelaide Hills. The next day the reason became clear: He was in Iraq, telling the troops how valuable they are, even if the pay rise was only 1.5%. Not only that, but he was giving the Iraqi Government five million dollars – who says he’s not a generous man?
And this also explains why he hasn’t visited South Australia or Victoria in his fireman uniform because we know how much that boosts everyone’s morale.
So will Tony Abbott feel it’s necessary to visit when he gets back, or will Queensland be his first port of call given the potential disaster there, once Newman calls the election.
PS: The PM has just announced that he doesn’t rule out committing more troops to Iraq even though he said he had no intention of committing ground troops just a couple of months ago. But he underestimated the strength of the surge in support for the Labor Party.
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