An Inferno of Incompetence and Obfuscation, by Roger Underwood, a former district an regional forester in Western Australia with over 60 years experience in bushfire science, planning and operations.
The most frequent question I have received over the last month is “who is to blame for the bushfire mess up and down the east coast?”
Oh they protest too much. They know they’re guilty, and the buck stops with them.
There is a school of thought, mostly put about by state premiers, that the blame game is bad form. We should put the whole bushfire business behind us and move on, they say. Forget the past, the future will be wonderful. I reject this concept, because in any disaster situation lessons must be learned (or rather re-learned) and those lessons applied to improving the way things are done. …
The trouble with side-stepping accountability is that mistakes are perpetuated. The same people go back to business as usual, and the same disasters re-occur. If nobody has done anything wrong, as the premiers maintain, no changes need to be made.
This, of course, is the beauty of the “blame it all on climate change” position. If climate change caused the bushfires, no individual can be pinned, not even those “fire chiefs” who were in charge during the entire time the current disaster was incubating and who now suddenly know what was the problem.
I reject the ‘blame it on climate change” position because it has two killer flaws: firstly, it ignores fuels, which are the main contributor to uncontrollable fires during a drought; secondly, it provides no practical solutions to the immediate problem. Both of these factors render the climate change argument utterly unsustainable, indeed ridiculous.
Living in a fireplace
It is very obvious who the people are who should be held accountable for the current mess.
At the top of the list are the premiers and ministers responsible for land management, such as it is, and bushfire policy, and the public servants in their departments with jurisdiction over forests and national parks. …
Under the Australian Constitution land management, and therefore bushfire management, is the responsibility of the states. It is state governments which decide how crown land will be managed, and how the protection of communities and their assets from bushfire damage will be organised.
Local government authorities are also high on the list of those accountable — and here again state governments bear responsibility, as they should never have allowed them to get away with the nonsenses we have seen coming out of town halls over recent years with respect to vegetation clearing and building approvals. Some premier or minister should have cracked down hard on this foolishness, and cracked down hard. …
The anti-fuel reduction burning academics have no understanding of practical bushfire management. They are misguided, misinformed and, by my reckoning, dangerously mischievous. But they have not been running the show. The premiers, ministers and senior public servants overseeing the land-management agencies could have, and should have, simply rejected the academics’ green ideology and its foolish precepts. Bitter experience should by now have made it blindingly obvious that the green approach to bushfire management can end only in tears. Instead, those who shirked their responsibility to protect their communities kowtowed and pandered. They played political games — Greens preferences in inner-city electorates can make or break governments, don’t you know — so they swallowed the utter bilge of academic theorists, people who have never in their lives had to fight a fire, let alone take responsibility for the design and implementation of an entire fire-management system …
Finally, the Federal Government cannot escape accountability. Repeatedly over the years, successive Commonwealth governments have been told that their bushfire funding model is pointing 180 degrees in the wrong direction. In funding fire suppression and recovery, rather than helping the states to invest in prevention and damage mitigation, they are rewarding failure. …
This article is specifically directed at the bushfire and land management jurisdictions in Qld, NSW and Victoria. In Western Australia, the penny dropped after the 2016 Yarloop disaster, and our Premier, ministers and public service agencies are now on the right track. …
Some people made a lot of money out of the disaster:
Those of us who have spent a lifetime dealing with bushfires have watched with dismay the way the state agencies, one after the other, have been seduced into thinking that more and bigger water-bombing aircraft is the answer to the bushfire maiden’s prayer. The almost laughable futility of the water and retardant bombers in NSW over recent weeks has only been surpassed by one other shocking statistic: the astronomical cost of this wastefulness.
There’ll be no change unless the people responsible are held accountable.
Or, since this is negligence from decades of faulty Green thinking by the political class, there’ll be no change unless the political class is damaged in response for endangering us and burning down the joint.
Sack these politicians, to prevent this happening again: