REFLECTING ON A NATION ON FIRE – LITERALLY AND POLITICALLY

A poignant on point cartoon from a Dutch Newspaper

I discovered Twitter in late 2012, as I prepared a quixotic attempt for election as an Independent in the WA State elections. Unexpectedly, Twitter has become my major source of 30sec grab news, replacing two daily newspapers and regular viewings of ABC news and current affairs. It has also replaced Letters to the Editor, as my preferred method of stating my opinion.

I guess I could be counted as a fierce keyboard warrior, as although I prefer civil debate, street fights with trolls and far left and right wild-eyed fanatics is really quite pleasurable. I like to kill them with politeness and fact, but if they get nasty, I’m on, although sometimes, when they’re too far gone, too rabid for reason, you do have to block. Something that’s easier to do online, than deal with the nut jobs (often self – professed Christians from Queensland), who, having spotted your letter in the newspaper, obviously look up the electoral role and send you 30 pages of photo copied conspiracy articles, all of which seem to end up with Satan, God and me locked in a battle I hadn’t previously been aware of. Yes Narelle, the nutters were always there.

Anyhow, you’d have to be isolated in solitary confinement not to know Australia is on fire and political debate and division is white hot, with deep division as to whether climate change has anything to do with the devastation facing the country and opinion on the associated performance of the current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

A left of centre, occasional swinging voter and card carrying Chardonnay Socialist, I have no qualms in admitting that while Bill Shorten didn’t exactly float my boat, the thought of more LNP government was anathema and Morrison seemed too daggy to take seriously. Like most of Australia, expect perhaps the inner sanctum of the Federal Labor Party, I was stunned by Morrison’s victory – I hadn’t realised the nation really didn’t like Shorten. Although of course, I should have, the polls had been telling us that for several years.

Enter Morrison as Prime Minister and my shrug of the shoulders acceptance slowly turned to utter disdain, I’d never quite come across anybody so smug, self – centred and incapable, in short, he began to make my skin crawl every time I saw him, still does, even more so after the last two to three weeks.

I haven’t exactly hidden my feelings on Twitter, as an aside, there’s a delicious irony in the fact that newspapers probably wouldn’t print most of my Tweets (especially these days when newspapers across the country, in the mad scramble for advertising income, are staunchly right wing), however, commenting on various newspaper Facebook and Twitter sites, many of which have paywalls, one quickly becomes a Top Fan, all of which is, once again, tied up with the mad scramble for advertising dollars.

Then this morning (5th January), as I was looking at a photo of Morrison with the NSW Premier and her Fire Chief and struck by the screaming body language of all in the photo  (anybody who thinks the two of them like / approve of, or wanted to be anywhere near Morrison, has rocks in their head, or writes for the Murdoch media), I realised Morrison had reached the point of being shamed into doing what the nation had been demanding. In other words, he’s now organised what he should have done several weeks, if not months back.

On that basis, I’ve concluded it’s time to call a halt to the attacks and let the rescue, in all its forms, continue. Those of us who can, must contribute with cash donations and offers of accommodation. My wife Ann and I plan to do just that on our return from Europe in the second week of January.

The issue then, is can we trust the Australian media not to let Morrison and his woefully inadequate mob get away with what has been sustained, deliberate belligerent and at times atrocious behaviour? It’s blindingly obvious that Morrison will (and is), desperately try to re-image himself as caring and a long time climate change believer, a lie, but he’s proven he’s comfortable with falsehood.

He has time on his side and he knows it, at the same time, Labor is still lost in the wilderness, with, to quote Bob Dylan, ‘no direction home.’ The Greens don’t count any more, their vicious machinations against Kevin Rudd have now deservedly come to bite them, along with their insane stand against fuel reduction burnings.

Having said that, we really have no idea what the long term implications of this almost incomprehensible disaster will be in terms of how Australians, in particular, those hundreds of thousands directly, or indirectly affected, will act with their voices and votes. If anybody doubts that, look how quiet the majority of politicians of all persuasions have become. The LNP will be banking on time being a healer, however the financial implications for every person, or business caught up in the maelstrom of the horror, are almost beyond belief.

I’ve been impressed and pleasantly surprised at how Ch 9 and Ch 10 have begun to ask hard questions of Morrison and his ministry – those that aren’t still hiding on Bali, a boat, or a white board somewhere. ABC journos, for the most part, still seem sadly and shockingly determined not to embarrass the government, although, to my delight, Ita has just come out swinging. The Murdoch media and the east coast shock jocks won’t change from their fierce neutral stance on Morrison and their equally fierce daily attack on anything Labor or Green. The inexcusable and by now ridiculous war Murdoch is waging on the ABC may come to bite them, given the role the ABC has and continues to play for people across the nation.  If the mood and the zeitgeist of the nation changes, Murdoch and the Jocks will come down on Morrison like avenging angels, screaming out the banal “We’re For You” already in daily use on tabloids across the country.

So what approach should somebody like me take, given that I think it’s vital to give our civil and defence services clear air? I think it wise, for the time being, to stop commenting on things, with the proviso that if Morrison and co drag things up, or a knuckle dragging fuckwit such as Sam Newman fires up, then the gloves must come off. The same goes for the ludicrous silver spooned Georgina Downer and there’s something called Chris Smith, not to mention the insidious IPA – can somebody explain why the hell they’re a charity? If any of these sorts arc up, then of course they must be countered. On the other hand, if any of them actually roll up their sleeves and help, they should be given accolades.

Which rather segues back to Morrison. His PR team must be made up of failed media studies students and sad drunks still sobbing over the loss of linotype machines, so bad is everything they orchestrate. However, I don’t think they will be able to help themselves, especially considering their boss appears to have zero understanding of brand and market perception. I think, sadly, we can expect more of the same, in which case, the Morrisons and Reynolds etc, are once again fair game. I haven’t included Abetz and Latham  – 24hr nursing care is the answer there.  Whether the Australian public is as stupid as Morrison’s mob thinks, is very much a question in waiting. But at this point, as I wrote at the start of this opinion piece, the federal government appears to doing what the Australian people demanded and desperately needed, so I’ll keep the muzzle loaded, but the safety catch on.

Which leads us to the aftermath of this nightmare – the fires, not the LNP Government! – when hope has returned and we,  the tax payers, have rightly helped fund recovery for everyone directly involved, including all fire fighters, from the beginning of this nightmare. “Funding?” You say. Now there’s the Elephant in the Room.

I believe the government is going to have to introduce a levy / tax on all of us, including the multi nationals etc who pay no tax. The reality is, it doesn’t matter which side of politics you bat for, no government can dive into the Treasury and come up with the sort of money needed to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.

In summary, repair, recovery and help, both financial and emotional, are the only things that matter now. However at some time in the future, we need, as a nation, to round in all these bastards who’ve played ideological games in the face of peer – reviewed science and desperate, pleading experts, all of whom have been proven so shockingly correct.  Hopefully we will, at that point, have a strong, alternative government, ready to lead, in healing our wounded land, flora, fauna and people.

Greg Ross

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