Bush Fires – What a bloody Shame?
It is with deep respect and sadness that Cranky Lizard dedicates this article to three firefighters who died while fighting fires in New South Wales: Samuel McPaul from Holbrook region: Geoffrey Keaton from Buxton region: and Andrew O’Dwyer from Buxton region. They were young Australian men who gave their lives protecting their communities. They represent the very best that we have as a nation.
Ave Atque Vale.
Lives lost. Thousands of buildings destroyed. Homes with people’s irreplaceable memories contained therein burnt to cinders. An incomprehensible number of animals, birds and reptiles lost. Millions of dollars of infrastructure wrecked and tens of thousands, yes, tens of thousands of fire fighting volunteers reduced to a state of utter exhaustion and despair.
And for what?
Well, the stark truth of this is that complacent, self-indulgent Governments at all levels in Australia; Local, State and Federal; have, over the past 10 – 15 years allowed ‘ green ‘ land management practices to convert our native forests, our parks and general countryside into an explosive tinder box.
Why did they let this happen?
Cranky Lizard reckons it was easier to just go along with it all rather than confront the noisy, media supported, well-organized and well funded green lobby at all levels. Green votes, inner-city votes, wealthy professional votes and a general ‘ laissez-faire ‘ attitude to the whole thing created the opportunity for a fatally beautiful siren song to float through the halls of our Government structures – dulling the intellects, assuaging the need to question what we were doing and gently shepherding us all into a place where complacency, with its deadly knock-on effects, sucked us into its comforting mental swamp.
And there we settled – like a mastodon trapped in a lake of tar. A bit uneasy, some small burrs under the saddle pricked here and there, but it was all too hard, and it all looked alright.
So there we were, fat, dumb and happy, surrounded by tonnes of forest fuel which breathed out an explosive mix of eucalyptus vapour; not seeing the hammer, waiting to fall.
And the hammer fell in December 2019.
Cranky Lizard does not intend to document the horror, the ferocity, the sheer terror of what happened to us – we have all seen the images. We have all seen the little media people in their fire fighting suits with “ media “ on their sleeves and their fire helmets held up by their ears as they pranced about on a flickering blue and red stage trying to tell us what we already knew.
And many Australians did know. A fair percentage of us have lived through the 1970s, the 1980s and into the 2000s. We have extensive corporate knowledge of bush fires and what they can do when the dragon roars out from its cave.
Australian aboriginal people knew what was happening. They know how to manage the land and how to reduce fuel levels; they have been doing it for thousands of years. They spoke out in various forums; did we listen? No.
You can ask yourselves, why did we not listen? Well, once again, Cranky Lizard reckons it was merely a matter of votes…stay in government, don’t rock boats, it will all be alright. Local Governments locked up reserves, State Governments locked up Parks and Forests throughout the various States, made land clearing and tree management almost criminal offences, declaring fire break construction a form of madness and Federal Governments found it easier to leave National Parks undisturbed thus encouraging stupendous fuel loads to generate.
If there was ever an example of bad things happening because good people stayed silent…this is it !!
Think about this for a moment, if you will?
Thousands of Australians build their homes in eucalyptus forests, with tall, mature gum trees within touching distance of their houses. “ A home amongst the gum trees. “ Various local government regulations prevent them from removing the tree if they wanted to – but, town planning approval was happily given to build homes in these places. They even built wooden houses!
We are building wooden houses amongst gum trees and encouraging stupendous fuel loads of forest material to accumulate – what sane person would do that?
More to the point, what irresponsible government allows them to do that?
The answer to that is clear for all to see.
Cranky Lizard insists that Governments are not amorphous units operating independently; Oh No!
Governments, at all levels, are put there by us !! They comprise elected representatives, chosen by us to do a job of work. They are responsible to us at the ballot box and it is us that should tell them what to do and what we want.
Cranky Lizard has banged on about this before, but it will not go away folks, it just will not go away. We complain about our politicians, all the time, I know that, and you know that. But if we don’t hold them to account, if we don’t give them feedback regularly, it is difficult for the complaints to be credible.
We also know, from Police sources that nearly 60 people have been arrested on charges of arson, relating to bushfires. That number of people willing to light up the bush causes Cranky Lizard to question the links these people might have to political and activist pressure groups! Maybe they wish to emphasise their cause by creating the fires they claim to be the result of climate change?
The whole land management circus is multi-level government spread across several government departments; there is compelling evidence that much confusion reigns. We know, from Court Reports, that hefty fines have been imposed upon individuals for clearing firebreaks despite advice from various government departments that is was legal to do so…..within certain parameters.
And these parameters were entirely confused: which left legal doubt as the only certainty.
Cranky Lizard reckons that we are better than this, or at least we bloody should be – because we have been living in a fool’s paradise.
What to do?
Cranky Lizard believes that stating the obvious and making critical comment is one thing; there are, however, some suggestions that Cranky Lizard offers:-
Central management and control have failed. Therefore it is time to return control to landowners, homeowners, foresters and local fire authorities. Cranky Lizard knows that this suggestion will be viewed as hysterical heresy, particularly by socialist labour governments at State level, but as bush fires rage and thunder across our land, anyone can see that their green land management policies are dangerous rubbish.
Remove and reduce fuel loads by controlled cool burning in winter months.
The year 2020 in Queensland brings a State election and a Moreton Bay Shire Council election. You all have an opportunity to make your thoughts known to those seeking election at both levels.
Enjoy your days.
***Cranky Lizard acknowledges the contribution to this article from The Australian Writer Viv Forbes: Revive ancient skills to better manage bushfires.