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08.03.22

Canberra must focus on flood victims, not warmongering

In recent days, I have been drawn to the poetry of W.B. Yeats and the first verse of his 1919 poem ‘The Second Coming’, in which he wrote,

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere  

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst  

Are full of passionate intensity.”

And so it is today.

The leader of the free world is talking about sanctions against Russia.

So the Biden Administration is sanctioning everything but Russian oil, the thing that drives Russia’s economy.

It was the war hero, the late Senator John McCain who argued that Russia was a gas station masquerading as a country.

It is all Putin has got.

But Europe continues to spend over $700 million a day on imported gas.

Work that out!

What on Earth is the Australian leadership doing name-calling and further alienating China, such that Russia has now named us as a “hostile country” and warned of “catastrophic consequences” if oil imports are banned.

It is one thing to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.

It is another thing to tell China that they have to do more to end the conflict and then slamming the silence from China.

As Greg Sheridan has rightly said, of all the nations in the Western Alliance, we are long-term, among the most vulnerable and the least prepared.

Yet we continue to pick a fight with the bloke up the road, China, when we couldn’t defend ourselves against a wheelbarrow full of stones.

But then we learn of a $10 billion plan for a nuclear submarine base on our east coast.

We had the announcement that AUKUS would bring us nuclear submarines by 2040.

Now we are told three east coast sites are potential submarine bases.

So are we going to announce to China or Russia an Australian target if things go nuclear? What the hell is this about?

Meanwhile, I suspect Australians are not impressed.

There are more than 15,000 homes and properties that have been flooded, in Brisbane, after being flooded in 2011, after being flooded in 1974 and what does Government do, next to nothing.

The former New South Wales Minister, Andrew Constance, knows the scene of natural disasters backwards.

He was in the middle of the devastation of the NSW bushfires in 2019/2020.

He has called for an independent commissioner to lead recovery and flood-conscious rebuilding.

Just like the reconstruction of Darwin after Darwin was flattened by Cyclone Tracy.

The key is an independent commissioner, not a government lackey.

Clean ups continue in flood ravaged regions of NSW and QLD.

But they are as nothing compared to the damage.

Yet the misery is continuing not just this week but, as with the bushfires, for week after week after week.

In NSW, Western Sydney, residents of Camden were told, last night, to evacuate. Picton, Emu Plains and Mulgoa have been told to prepare.

And anything could happen from the mid-North Coast right down to Bega and past the Blue Mountains.

Then there is Lismore.

Bruno, battling stage 4 cancer, in chemotherapy, his wife waiting on a hip replacement, when he returned to the wreckage of his home, all he could do was to survey it from a camping chair.

His strength allowed him no more.

Not a single store in Lismore is open.

Locals who know say it will take half a decade for things to get back to normal.

Adam Bailey owned an antique store, Northern Rivers Collectibles. He can’t work for anyone because he has a brain disease. The store was his life insurance.

He has lost the lot, half a million dollars’ worth of antiques, jewellery and collectibles.

We elect governments, we pay them handsomely.

The Turnbull Government, with Morrison as Treasurer, shelled out $440 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation who had made no application for the money.

But now we have been told $424.7 million has been offered as disaster relief from the state and federal governments.

It is insulting stuff.

I have said over and over again, in vain, this country should have a National Disaster Fund.

Money appropriated from every budget for application in circumstances such as this.

Yet people are faced with begging bowls, a couple of thousand people from the defence forces, endless good-natured volunteers and the SES.

Can someone tell Canberra these floods are a national disaster?

We pay our taxes which are invariably wasted so that Australians in these circumstances don’t suffer.

Stop flexing your muscles, Prime Minister, about China and Russia and apply them, urgently, to the flood victims.

Appoint a National Reconstruction Commissioner and get on with the job of rebuilding these communities.

There but for the grace of God go any of us.

Government needs to sort out its priorities and if this isn’t a priority, what is government for?

Yeats was right, “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”