When Cranky Lizard began this adventure some years ago, it was clearly stated that public pomposity, public arrogance and incompetence would be in Cranky Lizard's sights. That remains so today. However, nothing written here is intended to detract from the superb work of the SES volunteers in all states of Australia. They are a national asset, and if we cannot join them, we must surely be proud of them.
"If you keep doing the same thing and expect a different result, you are probably insane." - Albert Einstein (paraphrased)
Cranky Lizard notes that we keep on doing it, and doing it and doing it!
We build on flood plains. We get flooded out, destroyed, washed away, ruined, catastrophised, portrayed on media as victims and blame the poor bastard who is the Prime Minister of the day for the whole stinking, sludge-covered mess.
We have Australian men and women, many of whom we have never seen before, appear on our tv screens wearing incredible uniforms, Field Marshall badges and batons, medals, shoulder boards carrying serious ranks befitting North Korean Generals and, accompanied by the inevitable signing pantomime, bray instructions at us about keeping calm, staying safe, "doing all we can", "help is coming" And other banal nonsense.
Oh! Then there are the hats. Splendid affairs with silver and gold braid dripping off them, bespoke designs for women and men. Clippy little affairs, perched on weary crowns bearing the heavy responsibility of maybe 100 trucks and a squillion sandbags.
Cranky Lizard reckons the budget for creating the spectacularly uniformed shirts with shoulder boards, Gorget patches (known colloquially as red tabs), on the collar, rows of medals, and other weird-looking gongs would equal the purchase of a fully-equipped RIB rescue vessel.
If it is so obvious, why do we do it?
I suppose the simple answer is to stop building on flood plains, but much of Australia's East Coast, that land that is East of the Great Dividing Range, is almost always a flood plain of some kind.
It is on that land that most Australians want to live.
This economic and ergonomic pressure on Local and State Governments is almost unsustainable. So we carry on developing new estates with nonsense names, Podcast Downs, Trillopy Rise and so on.
Cranky Lizard suggests that it is as evident as a dunny in the desert that we are just building more problems. If building on flood plains must happen and is not avoidable, then surely some slightly more sophisticated planning system can be devised to deal with the apparent results from such decisions.
We know, because history spells it out for us, that our early towns were built on rivers, river mouths and large river deltas, because life was there, timber, fish, grain and wool were shipped from these places; there were no soft options in those years.
But now there are – at least Cranky Lizard thinks so!
Public sentiment is shifting, not for the better, self-responsibility is booted off the verandah, and the "Gummint "is being held communally responsible, mainly by sensationalist media with advocacy agendas.
Cranky Lizard points out that no Government is responsible for the bloody weather!
No politician makes it rain, makes it flood, creates bushfires. No politician has the power to do that, and to blame natural disasters like the recent flooding on the "climate change" phantom is lazy, irresponsible, deceitful posturing.
Rain cycles like the recent events have ever occurred in this country and will do again – regardless of the screeching, yelling, wild-eyed staring of the climate change catastrophists!
Cranky Lizard suggests that broad national thinking can be applied to natural disaster scenarios. More people are living in the bush; therefore, more people are exposed to bushfires. Riverfront development continues, flood plains become housing estates, until they are flood plains again.
Cranky Lizard does not intend to follow the wriggling worm of the media role in the recent disaster – except to say that it was unhelpful, wasteful, emotional and apportioning blame where no blame existed. Nothing new there – yawn!
We cannot keep asking the Australian Defence Force to become "flood cleaner-upperers" each time rivers break their banks; the ADF will have a great deal of heavy lifting to do soon and cleaning up streets after floods is not going to be one of them!
So? Time for clear thinking on natural disasters.
Before land can be declared available for development, some clarity needs to be inserted. Local governments could/should form bodies that will involve the insurance companies, the bankers, the builders and the developers so that the forthcoming land release will be designated correctly – flood-prone, fire-threatened or safe – and the appropriate attached costs associated with the land be declared prior to public sale, enabling the prospective purchaser to make clear decisions about their own personal responsibility in these matters.
Insurers will be able to declare that the land and buildings will be uninsurable or will have loaded premiums. What’s wrong with that? Fire protection systems will be mandatory in some forest dwellings, and the cost of these systems must be incorporated into the building costs.
Cranky Lizard is aware that these comments appear to be oversimplifying a complex problem – but is it so complicated?
You build on a river, or you don't? You build in eucalyptus forests or you don't?
How hard is that?
We turn our eyes to the problem of human resources to help assist with the damage control and the humanitarian cost of people who are materially and emotionally affected by the disaster.
There is a case for the establishment of a national task force of disaster relief teams, which occurs on an informal basis now.
Maybe that system needs to be hardened up – thus relieving the ADF from this work. Matters of this nature should not be beyond the intellectual capacity of Australia. We should easily be able to devise and implement a natural disaster relief system.
Well, at least Cranky Lizard thinks so.
A system of this nature would remove the poor whingeing bastards from the tv screens, blaming the Prime Minister for the fact that their house has been washed away – after having rebuilt it in the same place three times!
Has anyone else noticed that "climate change phantoms” appear on stage at bush fires, floods, and droughts? Phantoms that the media enthusiastically encourages?
Time passes, and the world changes, not really for the better in current times. Cranky Lizard believes that self-responsibility, once a proud claim in Australia, has been diluted by mass media: something goes wrong, and people immediately think that the Government should do something.
Governments cannot do that – they just can not. Governments can provide resources and deploy assets, but, in the end, you are responsible for yourself!
If you are rebuilding your house on a river that has flooded three times before, maybe you should think about that!
Apart from all that – life is good, there is plenty of it about – enjoy your days!