@ScottMorrisonMP

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.

ScoMo hires new spin doctor

There is no denying PM Scott Morrison has been in the wars. His media spin doctors have administered arsenic instead of Advil. While we still contend that the media beat up on ScoMo has been ridiculous in the extreme, he ironically needs to push back on them hard and preempt their sheer predictability.

If FNF Media was the PM’s media advisor he would be told to take a leaf out of Ricky Gervais’ book (without expletives of course) and speak in truths, rather than cave into polished and carefully scripted politically correct platitudes. Nobody buys it.

Media is ubiquitous these days. No longer do we need to pander to the mainstream outlets by handing out privilege passes for positive coverage. Truth counts. Facts trump fiction.

Ricky Gervais’ 8-minute speech will end up being viewed factor fold levels higher than the Golden Globes (GG) themselves because he popped their bubble. Sadly the person that hired him will be shot for woke reasons. If NBC has any brains they’d get Ricky back for GG 2021 to arrest the long term collapse in ratings. People would watch it for his performance alone. His comment” if ISIS started a streaming service you’d all call your agents, wouldn’t you!” was so on point.

Gervais was interviewed prior to the performance to discuss the vegan menu that DiCaprio was raving about. He said, ” I think it’s great that 800 people are trying to save the planet and arriving in separate limos to eat some veg!

Because the common person isn’t stupid. Most view Hollywood celebrities as totally out of touch. Gervais frazzled so many raw nerves that there wasn’t a loose sphincter in the audience. It is how roasting is done.

There is a beauty in pushback. Trump has a Gervais about him. He smokes the media all the time and gets 24-7 media coverage for free. The Dems could raise $1tn in campaign funds and Trump would still get more airtime.

Instead of being hunted, he becomes the hunter. The derangement of the journalists feeds on itself and ends up making the media look sillier by the minute.

Given the press has such little regard for context or perspective, ScoMo should call on the stupidity of the questions asked and put the heat back on them. When people read the 12th unoriginal slam of his trip to Hawaii, it doesn’t exactly make audiences pine for more of the same.

The idea of ScoMo bloodying the nose of a lazy reporter would work way better for him than whatever advice he is getting now.

The viewing public can determine what they see. They reward authenticity- period. Sincerity is underrated in politics. Admitting mistakes is refreshing. Recall Bob Hawke’s 1989 admission of being unfaithful to his wife. The tears. He still won the 1990 election. Very few politicians have been so loved and respected by both side of the political divide. It was his what you see is what you get persona.

Despite the press highlighting how Hawke’s death – a week before the 2019 election – would tug at the heartstrings of Labor voters, it only exposed how Shorten couldn’t hold a flame to the beer-sculling larrikin. Shorten hemmed himself to kiss-of-death Kristina Keneally. Albo is making a similar mistake with Richard Marles. Authenticity wins. Trump is authentic. A bull artist maybe but he never hides the fact.

ScoMo has 3 years to fix a tough few months. He is far from over. A man who pulled off an election coup like last May has plenty of runway.

Now he needs to smash the media for their hollow clickbait. Many are criticizing him for being like Trump. FNF Media’s criticism is that he hasn’t been enough like the Donald.

ScoMo should be taking it to the opposition for point scoring on fires by making ridiculous claims of climate change connections that cost them victory in 2019. He should point out hard facts and tell Aussie’s that no sacred cows, whether fire chiefs or arsonists, will be spared in the post mortem. He can thump the table saying he is sick of the buck passing.

The media’s agenda is obvious. Just take the nonsense over Tony Abbott. While in the political sphere he couldn’t catch a break from the media. Even his RFS service was seen as self-indulgent. Now he is being praised for his heroics for going inside a burning house because he isn’t a political threat. It isn’t hard to work out the left-leaning media is out for ScoMo’s scalp. ScoMo should throw their hypocrisy and double standards back in their faces.

No time to practice a PR agency inspired Ali-shuffle to win some brownie points which won’t be awarded. AmTime to channel Ricky Gervais and land some cold hard punches.

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

VICCFA FTE.png

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.

VIC CFA Budget.png

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.

Employee costs Vic vs NSW.png

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.

Volunteers NSWVIC.png

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?

Water Pumpers.png

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.

Fire Trucks.png

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

NSWRFS Budget.png

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.

NSWRFS FT.png

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

NSWRFS WP.png

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

NSWRFS WC.png

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.

NSWRFS CB.png

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.

NSWRFS CB PC.png

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

RFS Voluntee.png

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

NSW RFS FT Emp.png

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.

NSWRFS FTE Salary Avg.png

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.

NSW RFS CC Salary.png

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

HuffPo thinks a MasterChef judge is a prominent voice in Australia

You have to hand it to HuffPo. No bias at all. The prominent Aussie who suggested NZ PM Jacinda Ardern rotate leadership away from Scott Morrison is new Master Chef judge, Melissa Leong. Woke.

Expressing deep gratitude for New Zealand’s assistance is a given. For all of our sporting rivalry, there is mutual respect in times of need. Qantas even honored a 2x VC winner, NZ Army Captain Charles Upham, by naming a Boeing 737-800 after him.

Recall Australia sent 148 rescue squad specialists to assist in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake rescue efforts. This type of mutual assistance isn’t anything new. It’s what mates do.

We can be absolutely sure if NZ suffered another disaster, ScoMo (or any other Aussie PM for that matter) would be the first to offer assistance. Although it wouldn’t be too hard to envisage the lefty media suggesting they were merely the actions of a whacko religious white patriarch trying to score political points at the expense of others misery.

So spare the theatrics to morally preen on Twitter. If Leong loves Jacinda Ardern so much, she can move to NZ anytime and bask in her political radiance immediately. What is she waiting for? There are no visa restrictions. Or maybe question why 11% of the NZ population lives in Aus with no plans to move back?!

Uninformed bash ScoMo thanks to media which loves to misinform

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:

NSW

Queensland

Victoria

South Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

Northern Territory

ACT

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.