Be proud of our great vol­un­teers

Sunday Territorian - - OPINION - PETA CREDLIN

THESE days there are two types of Aus­tralians: there’s the per­son who sees a prob­lem and gets in­volved try­ing to help; and the per­son who sees the same prob­lem and de­mands that some­one else fix it, usu­ally “the govern­ment”.

Maybe, to use Sir Robert Men­zies’ phrase, there have al­ways been “lifters and lean­ers”, even in this coun­try but it seems to be get­ting worse.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are many prob­lems that only govern­ment can tackle. And some are ac­tu­ally made worse BY govern­ment, such as the govern­ment-in­flicted green tape that makes haz­ard re­duc­tion burns and veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment in na­tional parks al­most im­pos­si­ble.

But when fire is bear­ing down on our fel­low Aus­tralians, there’s a world of dif­fer­ence be­tween the vol­un­teers in the ru­ral fire brigades and the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect whingers blam­ing it all on Scott Mor­ri­son and cli­mate change.

Since the fires first started in drought-rav­aged northern NSW and south­ern Queens­land back in Au­gust, we’ve had the Greens and their al­lies try­ing to make po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal out of a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter and hu­man tragedy, on one hand; and on the other, tens of thou­sands of self­less vol­un­teers who have just done their best to pro­tect prop­erty, to save lives, and to try to min­imise the dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment.

These are not peo­ple to com­plain that some­one else should do their work for them; they re­alise that it’s their re­spon­si­bil­ity to do what they can to pro­tect the things they love.

I can’t say that it’s only the green fringe of pol­i­tics that’s gone over the top in re­sponse to this emer­gency. For­mer deputy PM Barn­aby Joyce shouldn’t have raised the al­leged po­lit­i­cal al­le­giances of two peo­ple who died.

But it’s al­ways the Greens and their al­lies who most con­sis­tently and most shame­lessly strive to make po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal out of ev­ery cri­sis.

This week, there were two stand­outs: there was the WA Green Se­na­tor Jor­don Steele-John who claimed that peo­ple who sup­ported the coal in­dus­try were the equiv­a­lent of “ar­son­ists” (as if shut­ting power sta­tions would stop these fires); and the Queens­land Green Se­na­tor Larissa Waters who didn’t ut­ter a peep to con­tra­dict the do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cam­paigner she’d in­vited to a press con­fer­ence who claimed that it wouldn’t be long be­fore some of the vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers would go back home to beat up their part­ners.

Two fea­tures of the green mind­set were on dis­play here: first, the Greens’ manic ob­ses­sion with cli­mate change and their readi­ness to at­tribute ev­ery dis­as­ter to in­creas­ing hu­man car­bon diox­ide emis­sions even though Aus­tralia has had droughts and fires at least as bad as these for a cen­tury or more; and even though noth­ing Aus­tralia does to limit our emis­sions will make the slight­est dif­fer­ence, given the in­creased emis­sions in other parts of the world.

Sec­ond, the Greens’ cul­ture war agenda which goes way be­yond just en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion to em­brace “all men are rapists”, “eat­ing meat is a crime”, and “le­galise il­licit drugs for our kids” rat­bag­gery.

For the Greens, pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment is just a weapon or a mar­ket­ing tool in their cam­paign for rad­i­cal so­cial change.

But for all the col­umn inches and the sound bites stolen by the Greens and other ac­tivists, the story of these fires is a fun­da­men­tally re­as­sur­ing one. Aus­tralians re­main over­whelm­ingly a prac­ti­cal peo­ple. When trou­ble strikes, we rally round and do what we can.

There were the vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers from the city pitch­ing in to help their coun­try com­rades. There were the vol­un­teer fireys from in­ter­state and from New Zealand mov­ing in to help.

There were the peo­ple who couldn’t wear a uni­form mak­ing sand­wiches and giv­ing do­na­tions for those in the front line. Young, old, men and women but spare a thought for the men, be­cause ‘toxic mas­culin­ity’ has been the re­cent target of the Left’s hate but the re­al­ity is that it’s largely been mas­culin­ity on the front line that saved homes, and lives.

Aus­tralia al­ways does well on in­ter­na­tional score­cards for gen­eros­ity. Last year, for in­stance, we were equal first on the Char­i­ties Aid Foun­da­tion’s World Giv­ing In­dex. But what re­ally sets us apart is the role of the vol­un­teer in our na­tional life. No other coun­try re­lies on vol­un­teers the way we do.

In America, all fireys are paid. In Bri­tain, there’s a vol­un­teer coast guard but that’s about it. Here, wild­fire fight­ing, surf res­cue and storm dam­age are largely han­dled by pro­fes­sional com­mu­nity vol­un­teers. If it’s the things you choose to do, as much as the things you’re paid to do, that are the real mea­sure of a per­son, we still can be very proud of our fel­low Aus­tralians.

Pic­ture: JANE DEMPSTER/THE AUS­TRALIAN

NSW Fire and Res­cue vol­un­teers bat­tle a blaze on the Pa­cific High­way which was closed south of Ta­ree. Aus­tralia is one of the very few coun­tries in the world that can rely on vol­un­teers for emer­gency ser­vices

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