The Personal Abuse Being Thrown At Our Prime Minister Is Un-Australian
Exhausted and grieving.
That’s how members of my family caught in the path of some of the fiercest blazes on the South Coast of NSW have described how they’re feeling. People all around them have lost homes and the beauty of the local bushland they love has been scorched beyond recognition.
There’s also a sense of anger. Most want someone to tell them why the fires were so big, how they started, and who’s to blame. It’s a natural reaction and indeed many of these questions will need to be answered in the months to come.
However, the complete abandonment of perspective and the amount of personal abuse we’ve seen levelled at our Prime Minister -- particularly by keyboard warriors on social media -- has been more than unfair. It’s been un-Australian.
There’s even one video doing the rounds of social media where a young man sings a song about how he hopes that ‘Scott's house burns down’. It’s gutter-level stuff, especially when you look at the facts.
Scott Morrison didn’t start these fires. Yes the drought has been long and the country is tinder-dry. We need rain. But we also need perspective. Reports have alleged some were started by arsonists, back-burning mishaps, lightning strikes and even children, with many ignition incidents still being investigated. The timing of Scott Morrison’s overseas family holiday was perhaps ill-advised -- the Prime Minister himself acknowledging as much. However, the political skin many continue to attempt to strip from the PM is just plain ugly.
Former Prime Minister John Howard said it best this week. People don’t want politics at a time like this. They want a leader who takes action, which is exactly what Scott Morrison is doing. The PM has toured dozens of RFS control centres and visited with local people devastated by the fires. He’s seen their grief and worn some of their anger.
Morrison has committed to provide up to $6000 to firefighters in NSW and Queensland to help with the financial burden of time served away from regular employment to fight the fires.
He committed the Australian Navy to rescue civilians in Mallacoota, Victoria and assist with the recovery and rebuilding in Eden on the NSW South Coast. Despite a communication glitch between his office and the NSW Fire Commissioner -- one that Morrison accepted the blame for -- the PM has activated the Army Reserve to assist when and where they are needed.
The most recent announcement by the Prime Minister was that the Government will sideline politics surrounding the size of the forecast budget surplus, open the nation’s coffers and commit two billion dollars to rebuilding communities and infrastructure destroyed by the fires.
Australia’s heart is broken. Spitting venom at the Prime Minister will not heal it, especially when he has been acting as a Prime Minister should -- taking direct action to help the communities and people devastated by these terrible fires.
Brad Emery is a freelance writer and director of communications at the NSW Minerals Council. He is also a former Coalition adviser.