The news of the day (well, yesterday) is that the PM has decided that we are near the end of the dangerous part of the pandemic. He is sharing plans for a “COVID-safe” economy, with the gradual re-opening of restaurants, cafes, shops, libraries and playgrounds.
And schools, by July.
The Chief Medical Officer describes it as being a “cautious and gentle” approach.
Well, gee, I hope it’s the right decision. I worry about a possible ‘second wave’, as seen horrifically in Singapore, when they eased restrictions too soon.
Time will tell, I suppose. Nothing I can do about it, apart from keeping myself and my family as safe as possible.
But, can we please just for a little while, forget the coronavirus (yes, I know it’s hard), but I’d like to share a few thoughts about the bushfire victims whose plight has been largely forgotten - overtaken by the pandemic panic.
It’s probably not even debatable as to which disaster is the greater, but I am aware that people affected by our ‘Black Summer’, over six months ago, are most likely still asking the question they were asking way back then. That is, ‘What are we going to do now?’
Remember that THOUSANDS of houses were lost, burnt, obliterated. Not just five or six, not ten or 11, not even a hundred, but THOUSANDS.
And, thirty-four people DIED.
After the fires, the federal government announced an amount of $2 billion to be used to help rebuild and aid the many families and communities affected. That now seems to have been a theoretical pot of money. Or, as the PM said not so long ago, it was ‘a notional’ amount. (No, I don’t know what that means, either). It has not been listed in the latest budget figures, so…?
There has been what appears to be a lot of duckshoving and I can see no evidence to show that a couple of billion dollars has arrived in places of need.
Nor can I see where the millions of dollars donated by the public – and the ‘celebrities’ went – that’s still being wrangled over, apparently. (Red tape, or ?)
Sure, there has been some clearing of rubble around sites that once were homes. I don’t know whether that has been accomplished by government depts, or by the army, or by individuals. But each burnt homesite cleared has meant about six or seven truckloads per house, to remove what was once a lived-in (and loved-in) home. How awful would that be to see a life-time’s work and living experience carted away (in bits) on the back of a truck?
Many of these people – the ones who haven’t left in despair - are still living in tents and borrowed caravans. Their plight forgotten; taken over by the worry around the pandemic. Survivors have been left behind. “What are we going to do now?” some are still asking.
It seems the answer may be, “You’re on your own now. We have greater things to concern us; greater things to plan and budget for.”
Could we please have a little more of the “We’re all in this together” attitude, for those affected by the fires?
Of course, the fire disaster is not all that the pandemic has covered up (so to speak).
Have you noticed that the focus on Climate Change has evaporated? What of the catastrophic future guaranteed if we ignore our planet’s plight?
If we dismiss Global Warming and its terrible effects – those we are already witnessing - we will only add that horrendous mess to the current pandemic struggle, as we try to make life on earth liveable.
When I think about Climate Change, (and, yes, it does need capital letters), I am haunted at the prospect of the dramatic changes to be faced by my grandchildren. I really can’t imagine any of them – or their offspring – setting off in a spaceship to find another (more liveable) planet. What will they do?
So, if you must – if you can - feel pleased and relaxed about the pandemic’s imminent end - as the PM tells us that our lives will soon be back to normal.
But also give a thought to the survivors of ‘Black Summer’ and keep doing your bit to alleviate the effects of Climate Change. Don’t allow one disaster to hide the one before. Don’t push aside the threat of Global Warming.
It’s all a bit too hard, I know, but give it a try.
Keep social distancing, wash your hands, plant some trees - and nudge a politician to remember those affected by bush fires.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.