Bookmarked A national disaster (The Monthly)

The fires have now burnt out more than 6.3 million hectares, killed at least 25 people and over half a billion animals, and destroyed over 2500 buildings. They are the worst bushfires in our history, and itโ€™s not even halfway through summer. Regardless of what happens next, the Morrison government will be tarred by its inaction and ineptitude over the past four months.

Weโ€™ll never know how many of these losses might have been avoided if action had been taken sooner, with proper resources allocated and proper planning carried out.

Nick Feik provides a summary of the various steps that lead up to the current situation.

On December 29, Morrison finally announced some financial respite for some firefighters, promising up to $6000 in payments to volunteers, but only (at that stage) to those in NSW and, oddly, restricted to those who were self-employed or worked for small or medium-sized businesses.

It all spoke of an underlying view that volunteer firefighters and state government agencies and private donations should carry the load. Morrison seemed to treat his role as merely ceremonial, like a national counsellor or cheerleader. The important thing was to preserve the impression that it was all under control.

All this is entirely in keeping with modern right-wing โ€œconservativeโ€ thinking: small government, fewer services, individual responsibility.