Be proud of our great volunteers
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.
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