Political panic or dynamic leadership? Morrison’s bushfire response

That’s a screenshot of an advertisement put out on Twitter, which you can see here authorised by S. Morrison for the Liberal Party to spruik what the Australian Government is doing to in ” response to these terrible #bushfires“.

If you scroll down a bit you will see this:

Katherine Murphy lets fly in Scott Morrison’s political ad is a bizarre act of self-love as firefighters battle to save Australia:

The prime minister’s promotional video was staggeringly objectionable and highlights his failure to lead

It really is hard to keep up with a prime minister who declares one minute disaster management is predominantly a state responsibility, and he won’t be running over the top of state premiers, and then, seemingly, five minutes later, calls out the ADF reserve, deploys military assets and procures more water bombers than anyone asked for.

This kind of plot twist is dizzying stuff in normal conditions, let alone in the middle of a disaster, when the prime ministerial norm is generally one of steadiness and consistency.

Perhaps it was Scott Morrison’s own demonstrable lack of clarity about what his government was, or was not, doing, in response to Australia’s catastrophic summer of bushfires that prompted his communications team to pump out a promotional video – on one of the most perilous days of the disaster – outlining today’s initiatives.”

That was Murphy just warming up.

Perhaps surprisingly news.com.au gives a quite dispassionate account in Scott Morrison slammed after tweeting 50-second ad spruiking new bushfire measures.

That piece ends with Morrison’s own account of the woman at Cobargo refusing to shake his hand and other people yelling at him. Essentially he says there is a lot of emotion around, and the fact that he was the ‘first senior leader’ to enter the town made him a target for people’s anger and fear.

The ABC’s account rounds up criticism from all directions, labelling the ad ‘absolutely obscene’ and ‘It’s like being ‘sold to’ at a funeral’.

More importantly:

‘The Australian Defence Association (ADA) — a public-interest watchdog of Australian defence matters — said on Twitter the video “milking ADF support to civil agencies fighting bushfires” was a “clear breach of the (reciprocal) non-partisanship convention applying to both the ADF & Ministers/MPs”.

The ADA website notes that “politically expedient Government announcements” featuring the ADF “is always wrong”.

On the radio Morrison is arguing that earlier he took the position that fire-fighting was a state matter, and that he had been responding to their requests. Now, he says, they were not asking enough and the situation demands actrion, so he is acting.

However, his style appears to be totally non-consultative, ignoring the appropriate protocols. As John Davidson said on another thread:

” He also said somewhere that he was doing what he was doing without listening to the premiers. The big man has taken over AND IT WILL BE DONE HIS WAY!!!

Sounds like out of control political panicking from someone who doesn’t know how to lead. “

This David Rowe cartoon from mid-November seems apposite:

When people with expertise wanted to meet with him he refused. Now he just goes ahead regardless, although on radio he said that calling in the reserves was planned in November. The Guardian has a useful chronology from May 2018 of how the issue developed over time, although they could have started with scientists’ warnings which Penny Wong says she was given when in government prior to Abbott’s ascension to power in 2013.

Moreover, Australia is already majorly on the nose overseas on matters relating to climate change. An article in the New York Post written after the Cobargo incident – Australia fires: Scott Morrison chased out of scorched town by angry locals – is worth a read, with the PM being called a “scumbag” and told to “piss off”. It gives a full report of the video seen here that went viral.

Paul Bongiorno had already written Morrison’s leadership off in The summer Scott Morrison’s leadership broke. Bongiorno details how Morrison continually gets the decisions, the optics and the words wrong. Whatever political capital he had from the election has been squandered.

On New Year’s Eve we had the PM telling us what a great place Australia is to live when a debate raged as to whether the fireworks should be cancelled and the cricket authorities are spelling out the protocols about who decides whether the players can still see the ball for the smoke. Well before that time the PM had become a bit of a joke. The first comment on this Mumbrella piece says “Morrison is no leader, he couldn’t even lead a choko vine over a dunny wall.! “

Laura Tingle asks a reasonable question in Are the bushfires Scott Morrison’s Hurricane Katrina moment that he can’t live down?

Reflecting on a photo of himself surveying some of the damage from Air Force One, George W Bush said:

That photo of me hovering over the damage suggested I was detached from the suffering on the ground,” Bush wrote later in his book Decision Points.

“That was not how I felt. But once that impression was formed, I couldn’t change it.”

Tingle dismembers the Government’s shallow, perfidious and contradictory climate ‘policies’.

A price we have paid is a general lack of trust in politicians and the institutions of government, which the right side of politics have trashed in Australia over the last 10 years. Joe Hildebrandt comes up with an unusual analysis which nevertheless is built around the central point that we’ve had Liberal and Labor powerbrokers treating the office of the prime minister as a personal plaything and the electorate with contempt in the process. The notable exception, he says, has been Anthony Albanese, but than he says Albo has been attacked by the lunar left for not attacking Morrison.

Must say, I don’t know where or when that happened, or who the ‘lunar left’ are.

I was surprised at Tingle’s report on the scale of the fires:

“To give some scale to what has happened here so far, international media outlets have been reporting the 2018 California fires burnt 2 million acres; the 2019 Amazon fires 2.2 million; and the 2019 Siberian fires 6.7 million.

So far Australia’s 2019/20 fires have burnt 12 million acres.”

As commenter zoot pointed out the New York Times has an excellent piece Why the Fires in Australia Are So Bad. Just in is an excellent graphic explainer from the BBC.

Our problem is that at the UN climate talks in Madrid in December our stance not just a sad, irrelevant joke, we were actively obstructionist.

The world is watching. See also the BBC’s What is Australia doing to tackle climate change?

I think 2019 is the year climate change smacked us in the face. It’s time to act now, urgently and at scale, on immediate and longer term adaptation and mitigation.

On the latter, that should mean net zero CO2 by 2030 at latest, and 350 ppm ASAP thereafter.

74 thoughts on “Political panic or dynamic leadership? Morrison’s bushfire response”

  1. It’s still painful trying to write anything in the engine room and some stuff doesn’t work.

  2. This is what I said on Climate Blog rides again: “Scott Morrison denies fires Facebook post an advertisement as he announces recovery agency. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-05/fires-scott-morrison-denies-facebook-post-an-advertisement/11842040. I watched him “talking” on the subject on the TV (5/1/20) He came across as a blustering bully while David Proudfoot should be commended for standing behind him with a perfectly straight, immobile face.”
    Someone able to run a smart campaign but lacking in empathy. For example, his attitudes to refugees and the unemployed and his reaction to the person that doesn’t want to shake his hand all hint at a general lack of empathy.
    His loss of the NZ and Australian tourist bureau managing director jobs hint at problems with his capacity to lead and the over reaction to attacks on his performance. This could get worse if the polls start to show him as less popular than Shorten.

  3. John, my Better Half says to classify Morrison as Aspergic is unkind to people who do have that personality syndrome.

    I know we are supposed to be tolerant, but I do think he has distorted personality development, so somehow it’s OK to lie and do anything it takes to win. Mungo MacCallum says There is no reason to believe that Scott Morrison is becoming a serious Prime Minister, he’s only confident when attacking his opponent.

    Not a very nice man at all.

  4. I agree with your Better Half.
    I have known three young (definitely diagnosed) Aspbergers persons.

    Each of them was considerate, bright, humorous and modest. Not a nasty bone in their bodies. Can’t imagine any of them seeking the greasy pole of political advancement or fame.

    “Lacking Empathy” is a trait much more common than Aspbergers. When it’s found in a senior politician, watch out!!
    Ditto overweening pride, monstrous ego, and being promoted above one’s level of competence.

  5. “Lunar left”??
    Not sure either, though I think Laura Tingle is a ‘she’ rather than a ‘he’.

    I think either Robert Manne or Gerard Henderson started using the term Lunar Right some years back. Referring to far right fringe groups like the League of Rights, neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, and so forth. The types you might hope the Liberal and National Parties might expel if they infiltrated.

    I would hazard a guess that by ‘lunar left’ she might be referring to miniscule Trotskyist groups; or the Stalinoid wing of the NSW Greens; or the Victorian Socialist Party (step forward Jeff Sparrow, nostalgic for 1950s communism) who score around 1% or 2% of the vote, even when their candidate stands in the Peoples Republic of Moreland.

    In Victoria, some of these seem to be remnants of the old Hartley/Crawford stranglehold on the Victorian ALP, broken by brave John Button, Gough Whitlam, Michael Duffy et al – with help from pragmatic Clyde Cameron, as a prelude to the Federal Labor victory in 1972. Yes, Victoria was lead in the Labor saddle around 1970 and could easily have stymied Gough’s federal election campaign.

  6. Ambi it’s Joe Hildebrandt who referred to the lunar left. Tingle is a much better journalist than that.

  7. And while on the subject, I doubt Gerard Henderson has the self awareness to coin the term lunar right, a position he occupies.

  8. This is what Gerard wrote in “The Australian” a few years back:

    “Now, here’s a confession. Two decades ago I invented the term “Lunar Right”. I primarily had in mind extreme right-wing groups that were heavily into conspiracy theories but eschewed violence. Such as the Australian League of Rights and the Citizens Electoral Council.

    I also used the term with reference to two organisations that were associated on occasions with violence against individuals and/or property and which seemed to be fascist-lite: the Sydney-based National Action organisation and the Perth-based Australian Nationalist Movement.

    However, in recent years the term Lunar Right has been used by leftists and social democrats alike against mainstream conservatives. Last November, former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd told Network Ten’s The Project that Malcolm Turnbull had “to deal with the Lunar Right of his party”. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made a similar point this year.

    Mungo MacCallum and Mike Carlton have attempted to identify parties and individuals with the Lunar Right. The former used the term with reference to Katter’s Australian Party. The latter did so in a tweet that mentioned Liberal senator Cory Bernardi and the Ku Klux Klan. In 2012, Mark Latham linked commentator Andrew Bolt with the Lunar Right. It’s possible that there will be more references to the Lunar Right when parliament resumes.”

    16th July, 2016

  9. Ambi, I stand corrected, but I must wonder at Gerard’s characterisation of Cory Bernardi as a mainstream conservative.

  10. I think Cori Bernadi and Andrew Bolt are definitely lunar and definitely to the ‘right’.

    Mark Latham was probably never genuinely ‘left’ is definitely lunar and appeared to have moved right.

    Katter is interesting. His diagnosis of issues is interesting, but his solutions usually loopy. The KP boys at state level are steadier, and probably represent rural interests better than the LNP in Qld.

  11. Back on the fires, Lethal Heating has some interesting posts.

    First, NYT Q&A: How Climate Change, Other Factors Stoke Australia Fires . There’s a link there to an SMH article The world has made the link between Australian coal, fires and climate which gives a roundup of some international opinion and then our attachment to coal.

    Australia is going to find that the world views it differently. Gone is our clean, green unspoilt image. Expect implications for our education and tourism export industries.

    Secondly, also from the NYT, See Where Australia’s Deadly Wildfires Are Burning.

    Finally, from news.com.au The World Has Reacted To Australia Being Swallowed By Flames. It finishes with an Instagram post by Malcolm Turnbull.

  12. At Morrison’s press conference yesterday, he took a question about action on climate change. In his response, he said that the governments policy about dealing with climate change is the same as that of the opposition. And it was clear that the two policies were the same at the recent federal election as well! (My memory is hazy about the exact wording (which was no doubt carefully chosen), but this is the general gist of the comment).
    Surprisingly, there was no follow-up question, nor can I find any further comment from anyone since then, including from the Labor Party.
    No doubt this blatant lie was uttered for some devious reason.

  13. zoot as far as I’m concerned, Mr Bernardi “passes all understanding” and his ele torate has given him the heave-ho.

    (Zali Steggall was a bit of a flash in tbe pan, too.)

  14. Ambi, I believe Stegall is polishing up a proposed private members bill on climate change policy.

    Politically she is conservative, and it will be a test as to whether any of the govt pollies will break ranks and vote for it. Could be fun if the ALP and Greens line up too.

  15. Apologies Brian.
    Wires crossed again.
    It was Independent MP Dr Kerry Phelps I was thinking of, and I confused that PM-follower with Zali the ex-PM Slayer.

    As you were.
    Nothing to see here but bushfire smoke.
    Situation normal, all fired up.

  16. No problems, Ambi.

    Speaking of bushfire smoke, it’s landing also on the Land of the Long White Cloud, spoiling their clean air and making their glaciers melt faster.

  17. Must be why they’ve sent some soldiers over here to help their big cousins.

    BTW, Brad from Marketing has been trying out some phrases he hopes to send on to the PMO (Prime Marketing Orthaurity)

    All fired up
    Cooking with gas
    Who’s hot?
    The hot goss.
    Where there’s smoke there’s fire
    If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of Cobargo
    BBQ stopper
    Total Fire Bans are Totally Awesome
    Out of the frying pan….
    Wok around the clock

    He has a party trick too: walks around the room doing his “Darlek voice”: Evacuate, Evacuate, Evacuate!

    Brad is generally shunned by polite society, so there must be an opening for him in C*nb*rr*

  18. Brian’s decade in review post raised an interesting question for me. Will the Queensland electorate continue to vote for new coal mines in the Galilee Basin and the even more catastrophic fire seasons than this which will follow?

  19. “”Will the Queensland electorate continue to vote for new coal mines in the Galilee Basin and the even more catastrophic fire seasons than this which will follow?””

    I’m guessing yes to the first and no to the second.

  20. Jumpy: I think that the crucial decisions re new Qld coal mines will be made in boardrooms, not by governments. Cant see many responsible directors supporting a new thermal coal mine or the provision of loans, insurance and other services to these mines.

  21. Jumpy, there is no second part to my question.
    If you support new coal mines you unavoidably support fire seasons which are even more catastrophic.

  22. I’ve been seeing complaints from GPs in affected areas that they have been ignored by the powers that be even when they have offered invaluable assistance. The impression I get is that our disaster planning is by no means comprehensive.
    Even if we stopped all carbon emissions tomorrow we have already dialed in future years worse than the current one. Morrison will have to lift his game by a couple of orders of magnitude if we are to be at all prepared. Wish I could be optimistic.

  23. John said
    “ Jumpy: I think that the crucial decisions re new Qld coal mines will be made in boardrooms, not by governments. “

    I totally agree with that John.
    Capitalism is far more dynamic, versatile and innovative than any socialist dictate and without the threat of armed force.

  24. Jumpy: “I totally agree with that John.
    Capitalism is far more dynamic, versatile and innovative than any socialist dictate and without the threat of armed force.” Some decisions made by some companies re climate change were/are about protecting the income from some assets even though this was not good for citizens and the planet.
    Part of government responsibility is putting boundaries around what capitalists can do. Even you might be opposed to allowing unscrupulous capitalists to hire thugs to damage opponents production capacity.
    Or maybe i just don’t understand how extreme your views are.

  25. John

    I heard a rumour that (back in the 1930s?) armed men were hired to shoot pesky striking unionists in the US. I mean armed privateers, not Police or National Guard.

    What might be called “security guatds” nowadays. I hesitate to guess what Mr J might say about that.

    After all, it’s tricky. The guys with the guns aren’t hired by a socialist government to “nanny” the picket line, at taxpayer expense.

    Private mercenaries, hired and paid for by
    Private Enterprise, in what is undoubtedly the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

  26. John

    “Even you might be opposed to allowing unscrupulous capitalists to hire thugs to damage opponents production capacity.
    Or maybe i just don’t understand how extreme your views are.”
    No,no, you understand.
    Property rights are the fundamental cornerstone of Capitalism and the main necessary reason to have government at all.
    That’s not extreme, that’s basic democracy 101.

  27. Just to add, I also think it’s Governments job to not allow unscrupulous socialists thugs to damage production capacity.

    I could list a few but you’re smart enough to know to whom I refer.

  28. I could list a few but you’re smart enough to know to whom I refer.

    Sorry, I’m not smart enough, but I won’t ask you to provide examples because this thread has already been derailed by your insistence on preaching the gospel according to Jumpy.
    Honestly, I don’t know why you bother. We all know your beliefs and in – how many years is it now? – you have not converted one other person on this forum.

  29. Gee wiz zoot, do you honestly think I’m here to convert socialists that live like capitalists ?

    Why I bother is of my concern only, not yours or anyone else’s.

  30. zoot, the Qld electorate is not one beast.

    No-one has done the research, but I think there is a lot of climate denialism in provincial Qld.

    High income people in the inner city actually moved to Labor.

    I think it wasn’t a climate election, rather about a coal mine. I had hoped the young would come out and vote for Labor. There is some evidence that they stayed away or voted informal in numbers that may have made a difference.

    However, Labor’s messaging was confused and basically non-existent, and on the coal mine, if you thought they sat on the fence you were right.

  31. Brian it is therefore imperative that the ALP, as the only realistic alternative government, accept publicly that coal is a dead end. If the Galilee Basin coal mines go ahead our fire seasons will be year round (and that’s just one of the many negative outcomes).
    This will involve policies to provide alternative employment for the people affected. More pressing will be finding work for the people currently employed in tourism related occupations. Australia is not looking an attractive holiday destination at the moment and it will only get worse in the next few years.
    As for Brother Jumpy of the Shining Light Mission to the Barbarians, capitalism got us into this mess. It was the invisible hand of the market, assisted by governments in the pocket of big business (check out Scotty from Marketing’s vested interests) which got us into this mess and it is capitalism which has continued to fight any and all attempts to clean it up over the last forty years at least.

  32. zoot, I do think Labor should be able to “see” the end of coal, and indeed Mark Butler on the radio this morning said Labor was rock solid on zero net emissions in Oz and on the planet by 2050.

    I’m not sure any major country is planning to do better than that. I’d have to check, but perhaps Sweden, where they most likely have a lot of hydro power available.

    I’ve heard Albo put the case that our coal is cleaner, so its better for the environment than other peoples, and the countries burning it will simply get it from Indonesia or South Africa or somewhere.

    I think that argument may be problematic because the dirtier coal would only produce more muck, ie. short-term aerosols which short-term reduce warming.

    There is an argument that ethically we should not deprive other countries of coal while we are burning it ourselves.

    The AFR has been running editorials calling for a serious emissions reduction policy, peak business bodies are calling for the same.

    Labor will not finally settle its policy until after the next IPCC assessment report is published, which I think is 2021.

    I do think di Natale and Bandt, where they have a 350 ppm target, should be talking about that rather than coal mines. The bushfires have confirmed that 1C gives us a ‘dangerous’ climate. It’s stupid to talk about 1.5C as ‘ideal’, which I’ve seen multiple times from science writers in the New Scientist and elsewhere.

    Makes me spew. We need zero emissions and drawdowns ASAP, because 1.5C is unacceptable.

    Labor will never get ahead of the IPCC, but the Greens can and should.

  33. BTW Mark is in Kuala Lumpur at present. Someone told him there Australia was ‘dying’. Mark said

      “Donald Horne wrote The Lucky Country more than half a century ago to warn that if the luck ran out, there’d just be bullshit and bluster left. It’s run out, and that’s all there is. Plus cinders.”
  34. Zoot; As you might of noticed I think that the mindless “private is best” ideology followed by Mr J and his ilk has done a lot of damage in areas such as power supply. Ditto the “public is best” ideology that somehow ignores the great stuff-up of the soviet era.
    Agree that J is best ignored but sometimes both of us drift from the path of wisdom.

  35. Maybe our leftist government can stop subsidising fossil fuels to the tune of $29 billion a year? (It makes the $2 billion Scotty from Marketing has promised for fire relief look piddling.)
    This subsidy distorts the market and is a contributing factor to our current crisis. And yes, fuel and power will become more expensive, although I think the looming war with Iran will have a bigger impact, but each Australian will be around $1000 per year better off without the welfare payments to multi-national capitalists.

  36. “No one could have predicted this” says government warned about this in 1988, 1993, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019

    Headline from the Chaser

  37. I’ve been trying to point out for some time that the historical concept of “debate” as a tool for evaluation in a highly technological and economically diverse society has failed in the 21st Century. Rhetoric is a tool of persuasion not evaluation, and with the invasion of commercial business principles, where any form of obfuscation is acceptable if it “gets the sale”, into governments has come the complete separation of quantitative reality and fiscal performance. This invasion by business principles into the process of governing was engineered over time and for the very corrupt purpose of minimising responsibility of those who profit most in the economy for the externalities of their activities (waste, pollution, poverty, social dislocation, etc). This is blatantly clear from the performance in the US of the Trump administration where words are used as a device to camouflage evil intent and actions.

    2020 has got to be decade where we learn how to properly evaluate risk in all its forms and efficiently generate true performance, else we die a slow death as a society.

    The comment about Morrison and aspergers is interesting. I employed an asperger afflicted young guy for over a year and what i noticed was despite his clear intelligence what he failed with was his ability appreciate relative scale. If he was attempting to build things with various elements, the elements would be mismatched because his mind would zoom to detail in small things and his mind would enlarge that detail to make it equal with large things. A pebble would be functionally equal to boulder.

    Morrison is, I believe, just another low empathy narcissist, and he will never change his views on climate change, nor accept responsibility for his twelve years of obstructive denialism.

    Australia is a right off until Australians become desperate enough to think clearly on election days, and the only way that is going to happen is when we develop a better method to measure and appreciate reality than through rhetoric.

    Next subject: Sydney’s water supply, now down to 43% from 80% just a year ago. Remember those genius Liberals ripping into Labor for having built a water desalination plant?

  38. Bilb: “Next subject: Sydney’s water supply, now down to 43% from 80% just a year ago. Remember those genius Liberals ripping into Labor for having built a water desalination plant?” They did the same thing about using waste water in Qld. If you say Labor is wasting money often enough people start to believe it. something like the successful kill Bill campaign.

  39. I suspect the warnings listed by The Chaser may indeed be true and the suggestion now is that governments may be held accountable under the law.

    That appears to be paywalled. It was an opinion article by Greg Barns in The Mercury. He says:

      It is only a matter of time before the courts are forced to step in and hold government accountable as they have done with Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Corrs Chambers Westgarth, not a radical Left law firm by any means, warned in a note to clients last year that a new wave of climate change litigation is emerging in Australia. The note warned “communities most affected by climate change are likely to litigate to try to force action by government and the largest emitters, and to seek damages from those they think might be held responsible for contribution, inaction, and obfuscation.”

  40. Well bugger me, despite what some (or more correctly one) here claim China actually reduced its carbon emissions between 2013 and 2016.
    Trump and the LNP soon put an end to that.

  41. Brian, Greg Barns’ is a ripper of an article and his advocacy for legal action is spot on. His previous cases are representative of what is going on in this case just on a global scale. Morrison is just a handmaid to the oligarchy. There was report by James Fernyhough in the AFR ‘Government buried climate risk action plan’.

    “”Mark Crosweller, the former Home Affairs public servant who led the work on the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, told AFR Weekend the changing climate required a radical rethink in the way Australians interact with the land, and demanded “compassionate politics”.
    ‘‘Public policy on climate change at all levels of government has been confusing and difficult and there have been no clear policy signals,’’ he said.

    ‘‘We cannot rely on historical experience to anticipate future impacts.’’

    Mr Crosweller said it had been impossible to get proposals adopted ‘‘so that significant work can be done in preparation and mitigation’’.

    ‘‘There’s still a big gap within the context of existing leadership capability. We need a step-change in addressing climate change in the future.
    “We’ve got to get out of the habit of living in ignorance of what’s possible””

    Have we moved from the sordid political debate to a legal debate – negligence?

  42. Ootz: Directors of fossil fuel companies who continue to produce and deal in their planet destroying product should look at what happened to big tobacco and big asbestos as examples of what could happen to them.

  43. There will be economic activity due to the destruction wrought by these fires. I don’t think that’s a good thing and it’s one of the glaring failings of economics as it is currently practiced.

  44. Case in point – if the fires next season are twice as catastrophic it will be twice as ‘good for the economy’.

  45. Zoot: “Case in point – if the fires next season are twice as catastrophic it will be twice as ‘good for the economy’.”
    I would prefer the stimulation to involve cancelling tax reductions for the rich, increasing the wages of low income earners and doing something about all the underfunded government services including fire fighting services.
    I doubt whether it will be possible for the fires to be catastrophic given the amount of burning that has taken place this year.

  46. Brian: I think it is unlikely that we will have enough bush left at the end of summer to support fires of the scale we have seen this year. It is also unlikely, but not impossible that the positive Indian ocean dipole will last until the next fire season. Then again we could have a hostile El Nino event.

  47. I think it is unlikely that we will have enough bush left at the end of summer to support fires of the scale we have seen this year.

    I don’t know John. A quick search indicates that we have 134 million hectares of forest and so far we’ve only burnt a bit more than 10 million of them. That leaves quite a bit and Aussies are famous for punching above their weight. 🙂

  48. Jumpy: “It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.” The assumption is that the shop keeper would spend the six francs rather than add it to his money pot that will be destroyed during the next war.
    The assumption becomes even weaker when you are talking about governments. The current mob would simply add money saved to its politically attractive budget surplus. Part of the reason why I think money spent on the bush fire crisis will be good for the economy.

  49. Fires, like a person’s own imminent hanging, tend to concentrate the mind rather sharply.

    Heavy smoke over Sydney.
    Now, heavy smoke over Melbourne.

    Visible, people coughing and – heavens above – sports events cancelled. Thoroughbred horses, humans affected.

    That old trope about CO2 being invisible is forgotten.
    Now it’s hazardous conditions for firefighters and other emergency workers, holidays cancelled, road trips cancelled.

    To misuse the old Aussie cartoon: “Stop laughing, this is SERIOUS!”

  50. Just heard from Mark again yesterday. He’s still in Kuala Lumpur. Decided he wouldn’t go back to Thailand because the air there was too bad, according to reports.

    I think they are too close to China, probably India too.

  51. Obviously these bushfires are unfortunate and we can chat about causal factors but I do have a chuckle every time the ABC calls them UNPRECEDENTED!!

  52. When was the last time we sent a smoke plume the size of the continental USA around the world? Somehow I missed it.

  53. When I hear Greg Mullins say that in 47 years of fire fighting he’s hardly ever seen a fire-generated thunderstorm and now they are the new normal, I don’t smile.

  54. Sorry, I don’t know by what metric folk use for “ unprecedented “ in this area.
    Please do tell, it may be one I’m overlooking.

  55. My apologies Jumpy, obviously I was mistaken – I thought you knew the meaning of the word unprecedented.
    You apparently believe the ABC and News.com use the word to say there haven’t been bush fires in Australia before. That teacher who kept crying instead of teaching you English has a lot to answer for.

  56. Sorry, I don’t know by what metric folk use for “ unprecedented “ in this area.

    Your Google is broken again I see. Try this. It’s a bit old but it answers your question.
    TL:DR: has never happened on this scale before.

  57. Truncated timelines are a feature of deception zoot.
    You’ve again displayed a non thinking attitude of everything scientific and honest.

    Back in the ignore bin for you.

  58. What part of bush fires in Australia have never been on this scale before is a truncated timeline?
    Do you have E…Vid…Ence of a fire season which burnt out more than 18 million hectares?

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