It’s 10.54am as I type these first words. It’s already passed 38 degrees on a day forecast to reach about 45 degrees in our town. (Celcius!) That would be 113 degrees Fahrenheit for those who are not au fait with degrees C.
Our local fire danger is listed as ‘Severe’ while further south, areas are listed as ‘Extreme.’ At least no-one is currently listed as ‘Catastrophic.’ If you have a look at the Rural Fire Service website, you’ll note that we only have two sort of ‘OK’ ratings – ‘None’ and ‘Low to Moderate’ and five other ones – ‘High,’ ‘Very High,’ ‘Severe,’ ‘Extreme,’ and ‘Catastrophic.’ I feel sort of bad, but I do find it slightly amusing that ‘High’s’ colour is blue.
I’ve been pondering the current political chaos in the light of our fires, and because on such a hot day, you don’t want to do much more than thinking, writing, reading and such housework that doesn’t take you outside if at all possible.
Australians are angry right now. And polarised. It’s something becoming more and more common across the world, with the rise of popularism. I find it quite distressing. For some reason, we’re all digging our trenches and settling into them, sometimes despite all evidence to the contrary of the position we’re taking.
There has been a lot of criticism of Scott Morrison – our PM – who is colloquially known as ‘Scomo.’ I have also criticised him. He and his party won the last ‘unwinnable’ election after he took down the previous PM (Malcolm Turnbull) near the end of that government’s term. He rode into power, partly on his portrayal of being ‘a normal bloke who likes footy and a beer.’
On Thursday night I was watching The Project. They did a recap of Waleed Aly’s Interview with Jacinda Adern in the wake of the Christchurch Massacre. One phrase stuck with me: “My job is to make sure people feel safe.”
There has been such a contrast between the way the PM of New Zealand and our own PM have dealt with the two disasters. Whether you’re a fan (politically or ideologically) of our current PM or not, there are two incredibly important things to consider.
Compassion, and Leadership.
People who have lost everything deserve compassion. Firefighters who’ve worked multiple shifts deserve compassion and respect. People and firefighters who have been through unbelievable hardship and terror deserve compassion.
They deserve a PM who is actively visible, in the country, and prepared to visit fire zones with compassion, supplies, and an ear that listens. They don’t deserve a PM who appears to be looking for a photo opportunity and failing at it badly. Look, I’m a Christian. The PM is frequently open that he is too, but I see so little compassion in his policies and actions, that I despair that the rest of us will be judged by his public persona.
A country facing a National Emergency deserves a PM who steps up and leads. I know he’s not out there holding a hose, and neither should he be, unless he’s a closet RFS volunteer. But he and his government should be obviously assisting the states and making policy decisions for now and for the future. I seriously don’t care about a religious discrimination bill right now. I do seriously care about the impacts of climate change and the impacts of more natural disasters. I care about the country and the world we are leaving to our kids.
As I conclude this rant (yes, it’s another rant), the temperature has passed forty degrees C. (104F). I’m about to pull the (probably smokey) washing off the line, and my Fires Near Me App has just notified me that a fire in my zone (Kerry Ridge Fire) has escalated. We have friends close to the fire line, and I have patients who are probably even now, defending their farms.
Yes, there’s political chaos. But I wish someone would step up and lead with compassion.