No time to be stingy

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - OPINION OURS & YOURS -

AS the peo­ple of NSW, in­deed Aus­tralia, anx­iously watch on as fires cause havoc in this state, our thoughts and prayers are with the res­i­dents caught up in the nat­u­ral dis­as­ter and the fire­fight­ers charged with keep­ing them safe.

Al­ready the sto­ries on in­cred­i­ble brav­ery and sac­ri­fice are com­ing from the fire zone and we are all hold­ing our col­lec­tive breath while we wait for the real toll from fire-rav­aged towns, some of which res­cue op­er­a­tions haven’t yet been able to reach.

Added to the emer­gency is that all re­ports sug­gest the sit­u­a­tion is only go­ing to get worse next week and the weeks beyond.

Au­thor­i­ties are urg­ing every­one in the fire zone to be cau­tious and obey all in­struc­tions from fire­fight­ers. The pri­or­ity now is for peo­ple to stay safe.

And for gov­ern­ments, the onus is on them now to en­sure our fire­fight­ing squads are well re­sourced and given ev­ery­thing they need with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

The NSW govern­ment finds it­self in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of hav­ing ready cash — and there is no bet­ter way of spend­ing it then on con­tain­ing a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. Al­ready there are 1400 fire­fight­ers on the front­line and they face a long bat­tle ahead.

This is a dan­ger­ously early blaze — it is only spring af­ter all — and the weather fore­cast­ers are strug­gling to find any signs of sig­nif­i­cant rain on the hori­zon.

The govern­ment needs to open the purse strings as a mat­ter of ur­gency and ac­cept all of­fers of help from in­ter­state gov­ern­ments as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity.

It is go­ing to be a long sum­mer ahead.

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