Witness if you please today's editorial in the Oz RE the Bushfire Report
Burning bush capital
Jon Stanhope has much to answer for after bushfires report
BUSHFIRES have always had the potential to exact a terrible toll in Australia, but through good management and administration their effects can be mitigated. But according to a report just handed down by ACT Coroner Maria Doogan, this did not happen in the capital territory when fires swept through the suburbs, destroying 500 homes and killing four people. Among the findings of Ms Doogan's report, handed down on Tuesday, were that the territory's Emergency Services Bureau was inadequately staffed, lacked appropriate strategies to cope with suburban bushfires and did not use resources properly. She also found that ACT authorities failed to co-ordinate with their NSW counterparts; indeed, Mr Stanhope even refused an offer of help by NSW authorities. Even as spotfires were breaking out in the suburbs, Mr Stanhope was telling residents there was nothing to worry about.
While Mr Stanhope has taken to the airwaves to defend himself in the wake of the report, his words come as cold comfort to those who lost their homes or loved ones in the fires. His admission that "there were systemic failures", as he told ABC radio yesterday, suggests Mr Stanhope still does not get that, as the minister in charge, he bears responsibility. Nor was the healing process helped by a lawsuit his Government helped mount against the Coroner, which pushed back its findings by 12 months.
During his tenure as ACT Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope has been one of the country's most controversial and colourful state or territory executives. While he has delighted in his attempts to undermine anti-terror legislation and legalise gay unions, he has hardly made the ACT a bush paradise. His Government has imposed a welter of punitive taxes and levies on ACT residents while cutting services, most recently 23 schools. With the next ACT election not until late 2008, Ms Doogan's report will only increase the speculation that Mr Stanhope will step down to hand over power to an understudy. For those who lost their homes in 2003, such a move might be satisfying, but too little, too late.
Ah the Oz. Who for some reason don’t like Stanners. I think personally it’s because he doesn’t play the ‘Terrorists are coming! Terrorists are coming!’ fear game the Oz does since the paper prides itself on its ability to be the spokesperson on all things National Security all the while fully backing the conservative government line on security issues even when – like with Iraq and vilifying Muslims – they increase the potential risk to Australians.
Indeed the Oz has never had anything nice to say about Stanners and I’m guessing that’s probably because he runs as far as I am concerned one of the more moral governments in this country and because (the main reason I suspect) he never ever sucks up to the press. Witness the semi-hostile treatment he gets from the Canberra Times for one.
Let’s look at The Oz’s commentary which bizarrely extends into completely different points utterly unrelated to the issue of the fires because well they’ve fuck all else to say and because they just don’t like him and his failure to lock lips on Rupert’s butt and suck.
1) Stanhope launched action against the Coroner over a possible perception of bias – which anyone is entitled to do when there is – get this – a perception of bias. This action was over-ruled but it was completely fair enough he was allowed to. After-all before the Coroner had begun her inquiry it came to light she’d made a number of negative comments about the handling of the bushfires and was threatening repercussions. At least that’s my understanding. That and he was entitled to review evidence about his failings before he gave evidence. Yes it resulted in a delay but, Oz people, it’s called FAIRNESS. Of course you wouldn’t know about that given your ‘it doesn’t matter if it was because someone was tortured the evidence should stand’ stance in the Jack Thomas case and your teat sucking support of the government of the day over monstrous attacks on our civil liberties (which of course Stanners stood up against unlike any other premier).
2) Yes there were failures on that day. But as Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan noted himself, and I am no fan of Heffo but acknowledge that as a Junee Farmer who has experienced the ravages of out of control fires many times that he has an inkling of what he is talking about, there was little that could be done that day to prevent the fires from hitting Canberra. Though of course while the territory emergency workers were overwhelmed by the fire at that same time there were organizational issues that if were not present then perhaps more could have been done and lives might not have been lost. But hey given only 4 people died when 500+ houses were lost it’s still in my mind a pretty good result as far as protecting life is concerned (remembering those people who died did so because they elected to remain post evacuation order for the most part to try and save their homes and those of their neighbours – though in one death this was not the case and adequate warning would have saved her life). If you’re concerned about the warning issue then see Chapter 7 of the coronial report.
3) Ah, here we are, back to the Oz and why they hate Stanners. You see it’s obvious he took delight in sticking it to the government over Anti-terror legislation. You know how he was the ONLY premier to make public the sheer bastardry the Federal government wanted to stick to our civil liberties because you see to know what laws were coming and to comment on it gave victory to the terrorists. And I do love the ‘welter of punative taxes and rates’ and ‘closing schools’ (boo, hiss) comments also added in there which shows he’s just evil.
Mind you someone I like to call a journalist would probably have researched that taxes issue a little closer then realized that the ACT is uniquely affected when it comes to revenue raising because we are essentially A REGIONAL CITY WITH FUCK ALL RESOURCES FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCESS APART FROM RATES, TAXES, AND DUTIES. How many mines do we have Australian? How many toll roads? How much water allocations can we sell? Practically none.
The territory as anyone with half a brain might remember used to not be self governing and had ALL its money supplied from federal allocation. As a result the ACT was 20% better off financially. With self government get this Australian THEY HAVE TO RAISE FUCKING MONEY IN ORDER TO FUCKING OPERATE. And given they have NO RESOURCES this unfortunately means that THEY HAVE TO BE REALLY FUCKING CAREFUL WITH THEIR FUCKING MONEY. This alas includes reorganizing some of our excellent schools because so many people bought into the private schools are better myth that government school occupancy was at 70%. Put simply too few students in too many schools meant money WAS FUCKING WASTED. If the Federal government hadn’t done so much to support elite private schools then the ACT Schools would have more students in them. But they don’t.
Yes The Australian. Never ever let facts get in the way of a good piece of spin, especially when you can ‘Fuck You’ a government that doesn’t have time to wine and dine your blatantly biased reporters and as such you engage in blinkered editorial practices that are so beyond the norms of objective journalistic standards that to label yourselves journalists is to stretch the friendship of the dictionary definition. Unless of course you preface ‘journalist’ with ‘yellow’.
Finally I will just say this. While the fires were a tragedy and things could have been done better on the day and in the aftermath Stanhope, and the people of the ACT, performed magnificently. Neighbours opened up their houses, ABC 666 performed an amazing effort of calming and reporting and organizing of resources, and by and large we showed ourselves as a resilient territory of compassionate caring people.
Also, and I love the fact the Oz failed to mention this, it should also be noted that during this emergency Stanhope – amongst others – helped save the life of a helicopter pilot after his vehicle crashed in a dam – the premier and others swimming out to rescue him despite the potential risk of the helicopter catching fire or exploding.
How many at the Oz can say they ever did anything as valuable as that in their entire smarmy un-objective lives? I’d say absolutely none of them.
By the way Australian, in 2004 Stanhope was elected with an increased majority to win self government with a majority for the first time since self government was created. Yes this "damning report" was not yet out BUT all the complaints and mistakes were already well known prior to his election. It's almost as if territorians trust Stanhope to be a good Chief Minister despite mistakes made on that day and inspite of your gutter attacks that you're so, so very good at doing.