#NSWRFS

Sheepishly downloading the COVIDSafe app is a warning for all of us

NSA raises significant concern to Government abattoir proposal ...

We have no problem with people individually choosing to sign up to the COVIDSafe application launched yesterday. After all, it is voluntary and we believe in personal freedom. However, we are perplexed why so many people feel compelled to post their newfound compliance on social media feeds. It is this blind obedience that worries us.

It is hard to see such self-promotion on social media as anything more than the same virtue-signalling mindset of those who drape their social media avatars with the flag of the country where innocent people were slain by terrorists. Comments such as “I’m doing my bit” reign supreme. Why do people so sheepishly comply to sign up to this when the data is seriously unconvincing to warrant its introduction? Should we report our friends who haven’t publicly declared their status? Admitting one has signed up to COVIDSafe is borderline accepting to become a slave.

The most important point people need to consider is that there is absolutely zero downside for the government during and after this crisis. Remember that number – ZERO. If the economy goes into a prolonged recession or depression, our politicians can simply play the “we did it to save lives” card and tell us it was all for our own good. They can claim they couldn’t have done anything else. Unfortunately, we bear all the risk no matter what the outcome. That is a bad equation in any language. Why would anyone willingly sign up to it?

Indeed, saving lives should be congratulated, not censured. Still, at what point will we realise that the draconian measures put in place are leaving a disproportionate drag on the economy? As we wrote yesterday, if we take the JobKeeper support package alone, it presently costs $1.5 billion per death. Or $19.5 million per infection. The $130bn JobKeeper program is almost as much as the annual federal expenditure on education, healthcare and defence spend combined, three of the four largest budget items. Is this sustainable? If we stay in lockdown beyond the date of the package, this universal income will undoubtedly be extended.

There is a snowball’s chance in hell that we will have a V-shaped recovery. Our central bank might send us comforting lies to maintain the illusion that they are competent but it simply won’t happen.

Our authorities have suggested that the domestic economy comprises 75% of GDP which will provide a great cushion but on what planet do they believe that a crushed export sector which employs so many can be airbrushed to give us a V? Double-digit unemployment, at levels double or treble the present figures will all but guarantee a slower recovery. With household debt exceeding 180% of GDP, any future spending will be directed at rebuilding the balance sheet, not consumption. We’ll be lucky to get an L!!

There will be no normality after COVID19 abates. So much of our domestic future will be driven by the rest of the world’s approach to their own economies. Our neighbours will undoubtedly pursue more nationalist policies which prioritise domestic production. They will also need to contend with the likely aggressive reset of their own relative risk weighting, currency and fiscal positions. For anyone to believe that the magic pixie dust sprinkled by Canberra will avoid any calamity is dangerously naive.

Australia faces a $1 trillion deficit. Await the raft of new taxes on housing, inheritance and income to pay for it. We will absolutely hate what is coming. The sad thing is that we could have taken the pain over a decade ago yet we put short term expediency ahead of rational principle and now await the consequences. We are reaping what we sowed.

Much of the reasoning given by Aussies to sign up has been this belief that it will accelerate the government’s ability to reopen the economy sooner. If the government requires this sort of overlaying safeguard on top of the 99.98% of Australians that don’t knowingly carry the coronavirus or the 99.9997% who haven’t died from it, we should worry about our lawmakers’ ability to manage risk. Seriously.

Why are governments using future hard dates to consider reopening the economy? If today is the best day to do so, why wait till May 30th? Our own experience is that people are broadly respecting the social distancing guidelines. Sure, some might hang out in a park to break the monotony of staying indoors, but we are falling for the taglines from the government to #StayHome a bit too literally. The government should be rebuilding confidence. It isn’t. This app is unlikely to do much given the law of already minuscule numbers. It is all a feel-good measure.

With more than one million COVIDSafe app downloads in the first hour, many have proven that we are willing to conform to guidelines at a moments notice without considering the underlying facts. We saw this during the bushfire season. People blindly donated millions to the rural fire services when we proved their administrative skills were so severely lacking that these monies would unlikely be spent wisely.

In closing, many citizens have sent a wonderful signal to the government that they can easily strip more freedoms away by using panic as a tool to achieve it. The longer the economy is left to rot, the easier it will be to drown obedient plebs in even more regulations and restrictions because we failed to stand up and question the methodology. We will continue to do so. After all, former US President Ronald Reagan once said,

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”

17yo truant should go back to school to learn economics

CLies IT

It has been refreshing hardly seeing our 17-yo truant in chief, Greta Thunberg being exploited by her climate change doomsayers during this coronacrisis. Unfortunately, she caved to the attention deficit by feeling compelled to say she had contracted COVID19 despite not being tested for it. Not atypical of social media-obsessed kids these days.

Alas, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day came for her to come out of hibernation and tell us,

Whether we like it or not, the world has changed. It looks completely different now from how it did a few months ago. It may never look the same again. We have to choose a new way forward

Indeed it has changed and will change. However, we believe that the coming economic depression won’t lend itself kindly to the untested prospect of a “green jobs” boom. This idea that we can sit back and flood the world with renewables to save us all. It is unworkable in practice. Why?

Let’s take the CSIRO, Australia’s chief government science body.

Why hasn’t Greta made a b-line to reference our CSIRO’s energy transition costings for Australia which exceed $1 trillion with a “T” out to 2050 (p.135)? Note this report isn’t a net-zero study – just lower emissions. So by that logic, net-zero will cost even more. c.100% of GDP. Just as tax revenues are about to go through the floor.

You will feel even warm and fuzzier after reading the next sentence.

CSIRO assures us that “these costs do not include the full integration costs of renewables, but that these costs are expected to be significantly less than $175 billion.” Who cares about billions in a world of trillions? Significantly less?

Why aren’t politicians and Greta looking at the world’s biggest renewable crash test dummy?

As we wrote, “Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors was even more forthright about the failures of renewables…The shift to renewables, the federal auditors say, has cost at least 160 billion euros in the last five years. Meanwhile, the expenditures “are in extreme disproportion to the results…”

Note 330,000 German households are in a state of energy poverty and have had their electricity provider cut them off. That is what happens when projected electricity prices at the time of the hysteria end up double that of the initial costings. Oops.

Yet, how eager are supposed activists willing to sign up to the green movement in practice?

We have a home-grown movement to reference commitment to climate change. 98.9% of households in the electorate of Warringah, that supposedly voted Zali Steggall OAM MP in on a climate change ticket, still haven’t signed up to her ‘Roadmap to Zero’ plans. Given their high powered V8 SUVs are getting one month to the gallon these devout climate change alarmists don’t seem that interested.

What about those on the front lines of the climate crisis? Surely they know best?

When we studied the language within the last 10 years of annual reports of the state fire services around Australia, why was ‘climate change‘, the words that 29 former fire chiefs told us is such a big factor, barely mentioned, if at all? Take Fire & Rescue NSW’s only mention of ‘climate change‘ on p.81 of its 2018/19 Annual Report,

Where practicable, FRNSW crews were encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights on 30 March 2019 from 8:30pm until 9:30pm, joining millions of people worldwide in showing their commitment to tackling climate change and inspiring all generations to support environmental initiatives and sustainable climate policy.

That will do it!

Then what of green jobs?

We keep on hearing about a huge surge in “green jobs”. The ABS reported that after 5 years of straight declines, rooftop solar has been the driver of the rise in the past two years.

Annual direct FTE employment in renewable energy activities in Australia was estimated at 17,740 jobs in 2017-18, an increase of 3,890 jobs in FTE employment (28%) from the previous year (2016-17) and represents the highest level of FTE employment in renewable energy activities since 2011-12...driven by an increase in construction activity for large scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (1,950 additional FTE jobs) and roof-top solar PV (1,720 additional FTE jobs). Together, these two renewable energy types accounted for 94% of this increase in FTE employment in renewable energy.

The ABS notes there are 12,500,000 Aussies employed. Therefore full-time green jobs make up 0.14% of the total. Construction makes up 1.056m jobs. Manufacturing employs 770,000. Combined, these sectors make up 15% of all employed.

So our two biggest sectors employ 107x more than the peak in renewables FT employment.

In short

While Democrat Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez brainlessly tweeted you love to see it when referring to the recent trend in negative oil prices, restless natives around the globe will not tolerate governments that pursue green policies that prolong their unemployment pain. They want jobs, not spoon-fed ideological alarmism as their saviour.

This global lockdown is doing one important thing – waking us up to unpleasant truths. Comforting lies surrounding renewables investment will have no place other than the dining tables of crony capitalists who aren’t dealing with lived experience of scraping by without work. That is not to say we won’t get governments trying to prescribing a “reset” but it will be a one-way ticket to being kicked out of office when the results don’t live up to the promises.

Reality burns – our data always suspected it

As we have suspected by analyzing the data of the fire services, there was always a risk that poor administration was a big factor.

It seems 56% of Aussies polled agree vs 35% who think it is climate change related.

We list our recent reports on the fire services here. The numbers don’t lie. Hopefully the focus in the Royal Commission focus on the following.

Link between bushfires and climate change

Data never seen before compiled on climate change and fire

VIC CFA Budget statistics

NSWRFS Budget Statistics

An extra $1bn spent on fire services end up in smoke?

Senior management of fire services act like a mafia

NPWS hazard reduction data

Time we investigated the fire services personnel

Our next prediction is that the upcoming annual reports of the 8 state fire services will be stuffed full of “climate change” related commentary which was conspicuous by its absence to date.

Did spending $1bn more on fire services in 2018-19 just end up in smoke?

Based on a request for further data across more fire services in Australia, it is clear that funding hasn’t been a problem. It seems allocation of those funds must be. As we showed in the NSW RFS and VIC CFA reports, expenditure seemed to be directed at increasing staff in administration accompanied by higher salaries instead of equipment, where numbers went down.

Expenditures, not revenues are a better place to look because more than income, spending denotes actual deployment of capital. Note most of the country’s fire services spend more than they earn so as government entities, the state governments back and fill those budget holes. So what might not appear purely as a direct appropriation from a state government at the start of the year, someone has to shore up the deficit. Note many fire services keep the earnings from fire levies and other quasi-taxation lines so that doesn’t show up in the budget line.

More importantly, were expenses allocated sensibly we could reasonably argue that the so called “budget cuts” the media keeps banging on about clearly weren’t having any impact on their ability to spend an extra $956.4mn over and above the 2014-15 aggregate figure. That’s an average 33% increase.

We looked at 8 fire service across the country and compared 2014-15 spending to the latest 2018-19 published figures. Here are the results.

Fire & Rescue NSW

$674m -> $814m ( +20.7%)

NSW RFS

$311.2m -> $554.8m (+78.2%)

Victorian MFB

$372.5m -> $507.7m (+36.3%)

Victorian CFA

$484.8m -> $656.7m (+35.5%)

Queensland FES

$569.9m -> $724.6m (+27.1%)

WA DFES

$359.8m -> $435.5m (+21%)

SA CFS

$74m -> $89m (+20.4%)

Tasmanian TFS

$76.2m -> $96.6m (+26.8%)

Not a lot of budget crimp in there. If budgets were being so drastically cut no amount of calendars featuring fire fighters clutching puppies would make up the short fall. More than that, state governments would have tried to ratchet back the deficits in the future budgets. Yet they didn’t.

So once again if we look at the direct appropriations from the states as a line item we get:

Fire & Rescue NSW

$603m -> $724m ( +20.1%)

NSW RFS

$149m -> $491m (+329.5%)

Victorian MFB

$325.7m -> $414.3m (+27.2%)

Victorian CFA

$451.2m -> $622.2m (+37.9%)

Queensland FES

$494.7m -> $561.2m (+13.4%)

WA DFES

$303.7m -> $418m (+37.6%)

SA CFS

$74.9m -> $77.4m (+3.3%)

Tasmanian TFS

$57.8m -> $66.8m (+15.6%)

So in every case, government spending (whether state or federal) and the state levies these bodies can charge, went up on 2014/15.

Pity the media keeps jabbing with budget cut narratives when the numbers simply don’t paint that picture.

As we’ve said all along, we need to take a long hard look at who have been making the decisions inside the fire service administrations (not the front line fire fighters) before we start pinning medals to their chests.

Our Sandy Hook moment?

You have to hand it to the editors of The Guardian. In what world can anyone draw an equivalence between action on climate change and a crazed gunman who murdered 27 people, mostly kindergarten kids? Who wouldn’t think the two are interchangeable?

The Guardian columnist Brigid Delaney wants us to believe the connection. At the very least this article proves once again why the paper still asks for charity at the bottom of each article because the content doesn’t warrant a high enough value that ordinary people are willing to shell out for it. Sometimes, content IS the problem.

Her column takes similar cues from the recent NY Times article on ‘Australia committing climate suicide.‘ The Man Booker prize-winning author of the opinion piece, Richard Flanagan, is a novelist, not a climate expert. 

As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, once observed, the collapse of the Soviet Union began with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. In the wake of that catastrophe, “the system as we knew it became untenable,” he wrote in 2006. Could it be that the immense, still-unfolding tragedy of the Australian fires may yet prove to be the Chernobyl of the climate crisis?

Such dramatic language may well have inspired Delaney,

Sandy Hook was the rock bottom moment – where things are so bad you know they can no longer continue as is. After rock bottom, there is a choice: stasis and misery or growth and transformation…This apocalyptic-seeming Australian summer is our Sandy Hook moment. We have to seize it and change our thinking, our priorities and our politics. In doing so we can change our country, our future, and transform ourselves into global leaders on climate change.

Delaney might reflect on the facts surrounding gun violence in the US. 95% of firearm-related murders in the US are committed with handguns, not automatic weapons. So despite the constant fixation on automatic rifles, statistically American lawmakers would be better off banning sales of pistols. Deaths from mass-shootings are less than 0.6% of the total. Horrible yes, but a handgun ownership culture moment would have been more apt given that almost 40,000 that perish at the wrong end of a trigger every year. 

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, murders in the US appear to be very concentrated: 54% of US counties (representing 11% of the population) in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties made up 51% of the murders, ironically in states with the strictest gun controls – Illinois, NY and California. 

Who needs facts when it is much easier to put the blame at the feet of 5 million law-abiding citizens who happen to be NRA members. Perhaps Americans don’t view gun massacres as ‘rock bottom’ moments when it comes to defending their amendment rights. Mark Robinson gave a perfect example of why Americans are fed up with being punished for the actions of others. Obama had control of both houses in his first term. Spoke about 2A. Didn’t do anything about it. Plenty of gun massacres in his first term including Fort Hood.

Moving on from Sandy Hook and guns, allow us to indulge her commentary on The Guardian’s pet topic of climate change. Let us not forget that the newspaper implores its journalists to crank up the alarmist rhetoric. If only as much effort went into investigating the numbers behind the claims.

Transformation is recognising the facts: Australia is a climate vandal, led by wreckers. We are ranked the worst of 57 countries on climate policy.

Delaney has probably never read the entire CCPI report which ranked us 57th. If she had (like we did), she might have found the following,

The CCPI measures the emissions, renewable energy share and climate policies of 57 countries and the European Union. It released the document at the COP25 summit to bathe in the spotlight with alarmists pals. Where was the journalistic rigour? Of course, it was non-existent.

Who were the Aussie based “experts” (activists) the CCPI relied on to provide really in-depth qualitative opinions on our climate policy evaluation?

Doctors for the Environment Australia
Australian Conservation Foundation 
Oxfam
The Australian Institute

All climate activists. Precious little objectivity there. It is isn’t hard to work out why Australia scored a 0.0 on climate policy. Even worse, any think tank with the remotest thirst for integrity in reporting and sensible data collection should have questioned a zero score. CCPI didn’t.

Yet Delaney went in all guns blazing to bash Australia’s lack of climate-friendly credentials, citing this farce of a study as gospel. It is so bad it actually makes the IPCC climate bibles look good and that takes some doing given many scientists slammed the processes which were documented in the internal feedback study. We summarised the outcomes of that 678-page document here.

Is Delaney aware that according to Bloomberg NEF, an organisation owned by an individual with heavy green credentials, Australia has the 3rd highest clean energy spend per capita! We spent twice as much in real dollar terms as France yet these climate alarmists marked us down to zero “because our democracy supported Adani.”

Sorry Ms. Delaney, we are finding it hard to reconcile how Australia spending  11x the global average on renewables makes us climate vandals? What level would you suggest we lead? We await your data-rich analysis. 

Is this the takeaway from your rich climate expertise?

What might our transformation look like? It might look like a simple acknowledgement of causation between climate change and this summer’s fires.

OK, so we just get ScoMo to declare a climate emergency? Job done!

Presumably, if we follow alarmist logic, had we legislated to accelerate renewables by not having a democratically elected carbon-loving prime minister, supported by the Murdoch media and fossil fuel industry“, these dreadful bushfires, many lit by arsonists taking advantage of poorly managed fuel loads, wouldn’t have happened, right?

It couldn’t have been the lax fire service management of the forests and the closed shop mentality of our emergency services?  Did Delaney know that Greg Mullins, the leader of the 29 former fire chiefs, barely mentioned climate change in the last five years of FR NSW annual reports under his leadership? If it is such a huge issue in retirement, why didn’t he mention it when in a position to prosecute the case? Mullins would have sounded far more credible were his alarmist fears documented in black and white. They weren’t. Go figure. 

If we indulged Delaney’s the painful lessons of this summer could be transformative, if we allow them to be. Australia – having experienced the pointy end of the climate catastrophe – could become a leader in the global fight to reduce emissions.” for a moment, does she honestly believe that spending billions more on renewables in Australia and terminating coal exports would put a dent in our already minuscule 0.0000134% contribution to human-caused global CO2, much less the world’s? Can she make a case in data?

Will she stand in Tiananmen Square and shake her fist at China, which is building between 300 and 500 new coal-fired power plants out to 2030? Or rant to President Xi that China will spew one full year of Australian emissions every week by that date vs every two weeks as it stands today? Just easier to hitch to the media wagon and heap scorn on ScoMo. 

“Senior management of the Fire Services act like a Mafia”

We have been lucky to speak to one of the brave volunteers (pseudonym Fred, a 25yr veteran in the RFS) who has spoken out about the utter incompetence of the administration within fire services HQ. You should be furious after reading this. You are being lied to and the media is complicit by failing to do basic investigative journalism.

Instead of all of the glowing praise being heaped on the senior management of the fire services, here are some brutal comments that contradict the current media narrative.

What you will read are some of the direct quotes from our conversation which throw more light on some of our earlier suspicions.

FNF Media has been questioning the competence of senior management in the HQs. We have been demanding that the fire services are thoroughly investigated when this is all over. At the moment senior fire management teams are being deified in ways that almost seek to make them exempt from any wrongdoing. If there is nothing to hide, they should welcome the clean bill of health that would arise from an audit.

Putting it down to climate change, as some of our former chiefs suggest, is just way too convenient a scapegoat to cover up for what looks more and more like poor management practice.

We noted last week that budgets and salaries have been rising at NSWRFS, but equipment levels falling. How is that that with $140mn extra dollars last fiscal year, a 78% jump on 2014/15 levels, can this be? Fred mentioned,

there has been a massive effort in restricting bushfire hazard reduction burning by the fire services. Also, the senior management of the fire services act like a mafia. I don’t know how they get away with it.

Scarily we’re told that no resources are being refused. Unfortunately, we have evidence to the contrary. Fred said,

Premier, Minister and Commissioner all lied when they said that all resources were being used and no offers of assistance were ever refused.

Fred has asked FNF Media to withhold the proof of the conversation with RFS and it is damning, to say the least. It is toxic.

Recall our post which discussed the frustration within the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) with respect to restricted burning. The VFFA said,

“Hazard reduction is the only proven management tool rural firefighters have to reduce the intensity and spread of bushfires and this has been recognised in numerous bushfire enquires since the Stretton enquiry into the 1939 Victorian Bushfires…The amount of ‘green tape’ we have to go through to get a burn approved is beyond frustrating; says Peter Cannon. The VFFA is calling on the NSW State Government to reduce the amount of green tape involved in planning and conducting hazard reductions so that our Volunteer Firefighters can get on with the job of conducting fire prevention works in the cooler months to prevent the inevitable summer bushfire disasters…Remember that it’s far more cost-effective, say around 66 to 100 times more cost-efficient, to prevent wildfires through hazard reduction than it is to have reactionary fire response, which is what we have at the moment. With the great number of lost homes and decreasing property values through these wildfires, what then will the total fiscal amount be…when it could have all been prevented by effective Hazard reduction!”

Fred’s comments with us sing the same tune.

They spend such huge amounts of money on tech, equipment and salaries and yet achieve bugger all bushfire hazard reduction works. If I had half the budget of the FRNSW Bushfire Section I could do at least 4 times more burning. They are so inefficient.

My volunteer brigade did Zero burning last 12 months…volunteers are having to purchase their own uniforms and PPE… RFS senior management lies constantly and the media go along with them.

In the most recent fires, Fred commented,

The state government, RFS and FRNSW all declined our assistance, even as homes burned down with no trucks to save them.

The back burn on Bells Line of Road SW of Mt Wilson. It ended of pushing East and took out Mt Wilson and then went into the Blue Mountains National Park. Media reported that fire as part of Gospers Mountain but it was a wholly separate fire lit by RFS in exactly the wrong spot.

This is commentary from an experienced veteran volunteer with a quarter-century of under his belt, not some rookie with a garden hose who will just get in harm’s way. Yet Fred’s well-trained services were refused. Period. We have the evidence. He went further,

Very poor use of available volunteers. 70,000 are on the books but less than 7,000 are being used????

They [management] should be investigated and sacked. Not given medals and bigger budgets.

I am hoping I will be a witness in the inquiries or Royal Commission after…This all needs to come out.”

I have emails from RFS and FRNSW already shared with the Minister and Premier. They are well aware of the problem. But the RFS Commissioner is like Santa at Christmas right now.

Will our mainstream media going out of its way to ask probing questions instead of having the likes of Karl Stefanovic rant on morning TV about the PM’s shortcomings while blowing wind up the backside of the fire chief? Apparently not. Too simple to report on easy clickbait, devoid of any facts.

Let us pray that when all the fires have died down, the post-mortem avoids arse covering and blame-shifting. Although we know that is exactly what will happen.

Remember climate change is an irrelevant argument as we pointed out in our study here. FR NSW mentions the word ‘climate change‘ once in the last 6 years of annual reports. Even then it was in reference to fire stations voluntarily switching off non-essential lighting for Earth Hour. Hardly pointing to detailed statistics derived from their own experience. On the flip side, the Victorian CFA mentions ‘inclusion‘ 56 times in the last 6 years of annual reports. Priorities don’t seem to lie where the core business lies.

Money does not seem to be the major problem even though a further $2bn is being committed for relief. It is increasingly looking like mismanagement. If the volunteers, who do it without compensation, are screaming at the desk jockeys who orchestrate the controlled burn-offs (or lack thereof) doesn’t it make one curious as to why the fires got so ridiculously out of control?

We have every right to be angry. We should settle for nothing less. FNF Media is astonished at the generosity of the $40m in donations raised for bushfire relief. However, we worry that the fire services don’t appear to have a lot of skill in allocating vital funds where needed if volunteers like Fred are to be believed and as we wrote in previous discussions. Given we have the proof, he should be and the cover-up will be found out.

National Parks & Wildlife Service hazard reduction data request

Logo - National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW

As requested by a reader yesterday, we investigated the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) data on bushfire hazard reduction. NPWS is part of the Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) annual reports but the data is best gleaned from NSWRFS annual report appendices.

NPWS is responsible for the management of more than 860 national parks and reserves across NSW, covering an area of approx. seven million hectares, a land base that includes some of the most remote, rugged and bushfire-prone country in NSW. Since 2005, NPWS has regularly undertaken more than 50% of the total area of prescribed burning in NSW despite only managing about 25% of the state’s bushfire-prone lands.

In 2013, NPWS noted in Living with fires in NSW National Parks,

Fuel is one of the fundamental elements required to sustain a fire. While other factors, such as topography and weather, will greatly influence fire spread and intensity, fuel is the element most easily manipulated for fire management. Hence hazard reduction is about reducing the quantity and/or changing the structure of the available fuel…It is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate bushfires in NSW – they are inevitable across all fire-prone vegetation types. When high fuel loads, ignition sources and adverse weather inevitably coincide, wildfires will result.”

NWPS.png

As we can see, prescribed burning carries a fair degree of variability within the seasons, however, when benchmarked against NPWS’ own self-imposed targets (135,000ha from 2013/14) we see the following.

NPWS TGT.png

5 out of the last 8 years, NPWS missed its goal. When one considers that NPWS has such a high weighting in the burns, a miss has a larger relative impact.

NPWS TGT PCT.png

So who else is responsible for prescribed burns in NSW?

WHO BURNED.png

We also note from the NPWS report, Living with fires in NSW National Parks that the trend in bushfires since 1976 has been down. It also says that “despite climate change impacts, a weak but downward trend in the annual average size of wildfires on parks and reserves has occurred over the last 35 years and NPWS aims for this trend to continue. Improved bushfire detection and suppression effectiveness and more strategic fuel management within parks and reserves may be a contributing factor to this trend.

The proportion of wildfires managed in various size classes is a more useful indicator than average fire size for assessing the effectiveness of detection and suppression capability. Since 2000, 79% of all wildfires on NPWS reserves have been contained to less than 100 ha in area.Only 1% of fires exceeded 10,000ha in size. 

Now that we have a fire size in NSW exceeding 3,600,000ha it is safe to assume that the effectiveness and detection of suppression capabilities have not been extensive enough.

We should add that unlike the annual reports published by the fire services, NPWS does make more reference to climate change in the previous hyperlink although it is worth mentioning that it relies on third-party sources even though a lot of its own data conflicts with those trends in the report itself. At the very least it is a bit more extensive than FR NSW’s voluntary pledge which nudges fire stations to observe ‘Earth Hour’ once a year.

There is a stark admission by NPWS that arson is on the rise and confirms it is the largest cause of bushfires, data supported by the Australian Institute of Criminology. According to the US Department of the Interior (DOI) notes that 90% of wildland fires are caused by humans, 49% of that being deliberate.  So there is consistency in bushfire data across nations. In November 2019, one NSWRFS volunteer was arrested for starting 7 fires.

FNF Media wants to encourage people to objectively evaluate the data sets we provide. They are provided so readers can form opinions in an easy to consume manner that, will more often than not, challenge the narratives so rife in the clickbait hunting mainstream media. We are more than happy to receive requests like this to get to the bottom of issues while endeavouring to remove the emotion so often attached to ideological positions, especially climate change.

Data you’ve never seen compiled on our Australian fire services

CCFRNSW

For listed corporations, an annual report reads like an opus magnum which outlines the company’s major achievements, missions, strategic outlook, future concerns and goals. No ifs and no buts. The chair and CEO write glowing puff pieces about their achievements and why you, the shareholders, should keep them doing their jobs! Fire chiefs also write about the achievements during the year, every year.

Therefore when studying the language within the last 10 years of annual reports of the state fire services around Australia, why is ‘climate change‘, the words that 29 former fire chiefs told us is such a big factor, barely mentioned, if at all? Take Fire & Rescue NSW’s only mention of ‘climate change‘ on p.81 of its 2018/19 Annual Report,

Where practicable, FRNSW crews were encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights on 30 March 2019 from 8:30pm until 9:30pm, joining millions of people worldwide in showing their commitment to tackling climate change and inspiring all generations to support environmental initiatives and sustainable climate policy.

That is it. No words saying that the ‘catastrophic climate emergency’ preached by a 16-yo truant will lead to devastating increases in bushfires…Further evidence that we can sleep sound at night knowing that some (not all) firefighters might have switched the lights off for 1 hour on one day. So much for instilling a sense of unbridled panic preached by the retired fire chiefs…that’s right one mention of the word ‘climate change’ in 6 years.

Wasn’t Greg Mullins’ most important leadership role to warn NSW residents of the danger of climate change while in the top job? Wouldn’t it have been important to document those ‘climate’ fears in the annual reports that are presented to parliament each year? Clearly not. Best do it when sponsored by advocacy groups. Unfortunately, the ‘lack’ of acknowledgement by the fire service senior management surrounding climate change is an indelible mark by its very omission.

The chart above highlights the number of times the word ‘climate change‘ was mentioned in state fire authorities’ annual reports since 2010/11.

The QFES mentions ‘climate change’ 28 times in its 2018/19 annual report as it references an earlier report written on the subject. Prior to that, there are very few mentions.

Tasmania’s TFS notes ‘climate change’ alongside terrorism and economic downturn as things to watch in its 2015-16 annual report but makes no further in-depth reporting on global warming.

The Victorian Metropolitan Fire Brigade (VICMFB) mentioned climate change once in its 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 annual report but it only refers to the federal department that includes the name ‘climate change’ as a footnote. In 2018/19 the VICMFB refers to an “awareness” of climate change but it hardly sounds like a definitive statement.

Note that in 2011/12, FR NSW mentions climate change twice – once in the index and a loose passage that refers to it potentially having impacts. Yet FR NSW makes no determination by virtue of its own personal experiences. Note in 2010/11, ‘climate change’ is mentioned eight times by FR NSW but even then it refers to the IPCC research, not the findings of its own in-house data.

Let’s get this straight. If climate change was such a huge flashing red light issue in 2010/11, why no mentions between 2012 and 2017, a time when alarmist Greg Mullins was Chief Commissioner of FR NSW?

FNF Media encourages readers to save the following link for future reference. It is the 678-page IPCC internal review tabulating qualitative feedback on the processes of how it compiles the very climate bibles our media and governments swear by. A few excerpts comfortably debunk the credibility of the science contained within.

On page 16, someone complains that:

“some of the lead authors…are clearly not qualified to be lead authors.”

Here are other direct quotes:

There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful. This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter…we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent.” (p. 138)

“The whole process…[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific.” (p. 554)

“Half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world.” (p. 296)

Even those from minority backgrounds agreed (p.330):

“The team members from the developing countries (including myself) were made to feel welcome and accepted as part of the team. In reality, we were out of our intellectual depth as meaningful contributors to the process.”

Remember this is the IPCC evaluating itself. Imagine if this was a topic that wasn’t related to climate change. Would you be concerned at diverting billions of taxpayer dollars against such woeful governance and amateur approaches to compiling data and legislating policy? Exactly. Frightening!

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The alarming part of the annual reports published by the state fire fighting authorities is that they don’t contain much in the way of words that the laymen would expect to see e.g. hazard reduction or fuel load. However, there has been an explosion in words such as diversity and inclusion. These two charts below outline clearly where the shift in purpose would seemingly lie.

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Note that Californian power utility PG&E took this approach. The company had absolute clarity on the breakdown of gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity of its workforce and suppliers. Sadly it had woefully incomplete data on the age and status of its infrastructure (aka its core business) which caused the scheduled blackouts and forest fires. Unfortunately, because of this focus on diversity & inclusion, it dropped the ball on providing the very service its customers paid for and is now bankrupt. Get woke, go broke.

Forgive FNF Media for being blunt. If your house is at risk of burning down, will you be secretly praying that the emergency crew sent to put the fire out ticks the diversity box or competency box? If you prefer inclusion over ability, then don’t complain that your prized possessions have gone up in smoke. It is such an irrelevant metric to focus on all of this warm and fuzzy data without reporting the very actions that we should be benchmarking the brave men and women who actually serve in the capacity of firefighters.

We can wail at climate change as the cause of these dreadful bushfires or accept the sickening amount of people arrested for arson.

Sorry to keep labouring the point. We should conduct a thorough audit of the fire services to determine whether they have lost their way in deprioritising the safety of the very people they are supposed to protect for the sake of woke causes. Make no mistake, we cast no aspersions on those who work as first responders.

We hope that people drop their climate alarmist/denial bias and take a cold objective view of the data. Take out the emotion. Seriously, does the only comment in the latest FR NSW annual report surrounding voluntary ‘Earth Hour’ participation strike one as making meaningful impact on climate change?

Perhaps we appear cynical but when we see alarmist former fire chiefs sound the alarm on climate change, we could have at the very least expected consistent, comprehensive and extensive data/research “on the record” while they were in a position to do so. They didn’t. Those actions really have the alarm bells ringing!

VIC CFA statistics – no wonder the UFU voted for Dan Andrews

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No wonder Premier Dan Andrews had the support of the United Firefighters Union in the 2014 election. Once put into office he pushed the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) under its wing. Since elected, over 850 new FT jobs have been added to the CFA which stand at nearly 3x that of the NSW RFS. The CFA budget, according to the annual reports (here) has ballooned from $484mn to $657m over the same period.

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CFA employee benefits have grown from 48.7% of the budget since Andrews took over to 56.7%. To put that in perspective, NSW RFS went from 30.4% to 22.3%. Average salaries at the CFA have also grown from $123,806 average to $134,435.

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We also note that under Dan Andrews, the number of volunteers has fallen from 59,700 immediately before he took office to 54,621 today. Volunteers were none too impressed to be told their selfless service would be controlled by a union.

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So do we immediately implore PM Scott Morrison to start splashing out the cash in Victoria? What has Victoria got for its money in terms of equipment?

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In terms of fire trucks, the CFA has less than half the number that the NSW RFS has in its fleet. Only on water carriers does the CFA trump the RFS with 286 vs 63.

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Unfortunately, the CFA has very limited data on controlled burn-offs and data that is useful in making a comparison. We will need to dig deeper into the bowels of the CFA statistics.

Within the annual reports, the CFA spends far more time discussing LGBT Pride, gender equality and diversity. Which probably goes some way in explaining why so much of the CFA budget is directed at jobs, not equipment.

Once again, FNF Media thinks the grounds for auditing the fire services is a necessary evil to get to the heart of how such devastating bushfires got out of control and burnt for so long. The data here simply throws up too many questions. As a consolation, the NSW RFS looks far more efficient than the CFA. Then again, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria, this should surprise nobody.

Another good reason to rehash Thomas Sowell’s apt quote,

Those who cry out that the government should ‘do something’ never even ask for data on what has actually happened when the government did something, compared to what actually happened when the government did nothing.”

NSW Rural Fire Service statistics – where your tax dollars go

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The media has been quick to pick on the calls for our government to spend more on our fire services. We thought it a good idea to look at the facts gleaned from the annual reports of the NSW RFS, available here. We will go through state by state in the coming days and look at the totals to work out where our money has gone. What you are about to read may surprise you.

The first chart denotes the NSW RFS budget. The 2018-19 budget was $554mn, up from $311mn 5 years prior, or a 78% increase. One would expect that money would be spent on shiny new toys to help fight fires.

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As we can see, the number of fire trucks in service has trended down. From a peak of 4,385 in 2014/15 to 3,883 in 2018/19 or down 11%. There could be an argument made for replacements to more efficient equipment but in order to put out blazes, sheer numbers should help

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Water Pumper numbers have fallen from 71 to 63, or -11%. Water carriers have fallen from a peak of 64 to 53, or -17%.

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When looking at the number of grass or bushfires that were dealt with the trend looks as follows.

NSWRFS Bushfires

When assessing controlled burns, the total area in hectares by year that was conducted is as follows.

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However, when dividing by the number of controlled burns conducted by year, we see that the average slid from 259ha per burn to 74ha. This is not proof of efficacy.

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How has the trend of the brave and selfless volunteers at the NSW RFS progressed?

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Employed staff at the NSW RFS has increased from 846 in 2012/13 to 936 in 2018/19.

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With that, average salaries have crept up from $114,285 in 2012/13 to $131,908 in the latest filing. In no way is FNF Media casting aspersions on the value of those full-time employees.

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Although the growth in the Chief Commissioner’s total remuneration has grown from $292,450 in 2012/13 to $439,015 in 2018/19 or a 50% increase over that period.

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Running the RFS is no simple task. Hiring good people to run the operation shouldn’t be done on the cheap.

The reason FNF Media has suggested that the fire services need a thorough audit is to work out whether tax dollars are being spent wisely. Since 2012/13, $2.75bn has been spent on the NSW RFS. Are we right to question why a rising budget has led to a drift in equipment and a fall-off in volunteers? Can we link the reduced average burns in some way to the very high level of fuel loads that many volunteers have pointed to within all of the current political grandstanding of chucking more money at the problem instead of evaluating the efficacy of that spend?

Because to look at the data on a stand-alone basis, it would seem that the ball has been dropped somewhere. It doesn’t seem plausible that firefighters can be short of vital equipment when there was a $140mn extra spent last year. Only $15m went on extra salaries. Stands to reason that there might be a problem within the decision making processes in the senior management echelons of the fire service that warrants closer inspection.

That is a job for you Gladys Berejklian