The optics were awful. Residents of Cobargo, in the Labor held electorate of Eden-Monaro, hurled expletives at PM Scott Morrison. People shunned handshakes and the PM, in hindsight was a little daft trying to force a few for the cameras. It just made a bad situation worse. It was almost Malcolm Turnbullesque in its awkwardness. Still the media got exactly what they wanted – clickbait.
Most of us can’t fathom losing a home to raging bushfires. Yet the media beat up is bordering on Morrison Derangement Syndrome (MDS). Do the press corps honestly believe that Morrison’s popularity would suffer a blow from those assembled? Nary a Coalition voter in that mob.
The reporting has been pathetic. Little or no attempt to point out how the fire services are financed and funded. Next to no coverage of the voices of the volunteer fire fighters who have blamed years of green tape preventing them from mitigating the damage we’re experiencing now. Just feeding narratives and worse incorrectly apportioning blame.
How eerily silent the media has been over Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s two week holiday during these bushfires. Where was the demand for her to come back? No, just kick the PM for having a holiday. Don’t forget to take a swipe at his faith for added mileage.
Like most crises, it’s easy to become an armchair expert when hindsight is 20-20. The simplest thing to do is criticize whoever is at the helm. So MDS reigns supreme on social media as people seek moral preening.
How many are aware that in order to conduct hazard reductions, a combination of local councils, fire authorities and state governments (Dept of Planning, Infrastructure & Environment) need to issue permits? Not the federal government. See below:
So in short, most of this bushfire hazard reduction system is out of the ‘legal’ remit of the PM. What leadership can he truly provide without running roughshod over the state premiers? Even if he did so, nothing practical could have been achieved in such a short time. Not as if you buy fire trucks off a dealership floor.
Should he give the states more cash? Speak in platitudes? Promise the world before having completed the due diligence on the shortcomings that has led to the disaster? Hand out water bottles? Buy a whole fleet of water bombers and keep them parked in hermetically sealed hangars at Canberra Airport for states to borrow as needed?
All the decisions surrounding equipping the fire services are state decisions. This makes sense as each state has a different nature portfolio to oversee.
ScoMo has made sensible commentary to the effect that the hazard reduction regulations need serious overhaul. It is still up to the states to legislate the changes.
FNF Media has suggested a full audit over the several decades within the fire services themselves. Find out what went wrong? The management errors. The processes by which terrible equipment and fuel load choices have been made. Listen to the volunteers who are singing an entirely different tune to the fire management. Don’t forget there is nothing more honest than the voice of someone willing to sacrifice time and money to serve their fellow citizens.
When will the media grow up and start some honest reporting?
As Mark Twain once said,
“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”
Indeed, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the PM. He has handled the situation poorly. Albanese has extracted some political mileage at his press conferences.
Yet politics is a strange game. Already the media is chomping at the bit in predicting ScoMo’s downfall.
Morrison already won the unwinnable election. Canadian PM Trudeau won a second term despite a myriad of scandals where he was found guilty, black face, nauseating political correctness and endless hypocrisy.
Morrison may have many shortcomings but he still proves why opposition leaders can’t run campaigns on being less worse than the incumbent. Moreover he has many years left in this term to make amends.