And it’s not only wildfire, examples of failure to be aware of hazardous situations, take speedy appropriate remedial action and ensure it does not occur again are legion in Victoria.
Now we have the devastating COVID-19 in Australia with its ground zero in Victoria.
I understand Emergency Management Victoria was established to lead and coordinate emergency management but now question, has it failed us?
Listening to Phillip Adams on his program Late Night Live, broadcast on Radio National on 23 June 2020, interviewing John Keane about his new book The New Despotism, I increasingly likened it to what’s occurring in Australia, particularly the 2019/20 wildfires and COVID-19 virus in Victoria.
An extract from a review by LSE Review of Books:
Grand infrastructure projects remind me of railway level crossing replacement and railway tunnels in Victoria. Political capital, currently being eroded and not only in Victoria.
In my opinion the state Premiers are all despots, some worse than others and all seeking to demonstrate to their ‘subjects’ they are looking after their best interests. But whose best interests?
Balkanising of Australia
Those who offend me the most are McGowan, WA for his rudeness and Palaszczuk, Queensland generally for on her on-again-off-again fence around Queensland and apparent disregard for businesses affected. Both of them are leading the charge to Balkanise Australia by turning their subjects against other Australians, notably Victorians. They remind me of the Pied Piper leading the rats to oblivion — they appeal to the baser instincts of us humans unable to think for ourselves and see past spin.
While the rats may not literally drown as did the Piper’s rats, we should all expect to drown in a somewhat avoidable sea of health and economic disaster. No doubt in my mind that McGowan and Palaszczuk are more interested in scoring political points rather than the best interests of all Australians. True despots of the modern era and these two are not alone.
A few notable comments from the Late Night Live recording that runs for 20 minutes for those interested:
• At approximately 3 minutes – Adams “I've seen a bit of that around in Australia"
• At approximately 7 minutes 30 seconds – “top down systems of power”
• At approximately 12 minutes 40 seconds – why people in lock down shop
• At approximately 12 minutes 55 seconds – "people complain endlessly but do nothing"
A long recording but worth listening to as Keane says things that we may recognise in ourselves or those around us.
Sticking with my blog commitment to better wildfire management but acknowledging the measures necessary to contain/eliminate COVID-19, whatever, how will wildfire be managed this approaching season in Victoria to avoid a Mallacoota catastrophe elsewhere? What planning is going into dealing with:
• Reduced availability of firefighters from interstate and overseas?
• Reduced availability of firefighting aircraft from interstate and overseas?
• Restricted movement of ICC people across Victoria?
The vexed question of evacuation, a particularly important consideration given people are currently being urged to isolate in their homes and may be reluctant to leave ... some may actually get caught and die. Then there's the potential for many to protect their homes and businesses where ember attack is the main threat, particularly in towns and settlements, but this would require a shift by the fire and emergency services from their perceived ownership of the wildfire problem. From an earlier posting, "Evacuation is the easy option, we can and must do better at protecting human life."
"BANNING, Calif. — Thousands of people were under evacuation orders Sunday after a wildfire in mountains east of Los Angeles exploded in size as crews battled flames in triple-digit heat." Large scale evacuation in a US state with a record number of coronavirus deaths for one day at 30 July 2020. Source The Washington Post.
With EMV involved with COVID-19 in Victoria, is attention also being given to planning for the next wildfire season taking into account lessons that should have been learned from the 2019/20 fires?
As I understand the role, the Emergency Management Commissioner has overall responsibility for emergency management in Victoria, be it wildfire or a dead whale that attracts sharks to a beach, which brings me to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the EMV "Victorian action plan for influenza pandemic" published in August 2015 I find this disturbing:
1.8 Review The action plan is current at the time of publication [August 2015] and remains in effect until modified or superseded.
The action plan will be reviewed and updated every three years or sooner if it is applied in a major emergency or exercise, or if there is a change to relevant legislation or arrangements. [my emphasis]
Almost two years to the day a review is overdue. Were there no lessons to be learned from pandemics, etc e.g. Ebola that occurred elsewhere that we could have learned from? Or relevant lessons to be learned from management of wildfire in Victoria since 2009? Note that the responsible minister is Lisa Neville.
Sub-part 3.3 Consequence management is worth reading, too. Considering the scrambling to cope with rising case numbers and deaths suggests that Department of Health & Human Services Victoria has questions to answer. A deathly dereliction of duty? Note that the responsible minister is Jenny Mikakos.
Another distraction for EMV, the type that can take people lower on Maslow's hierarchy of needs? From The Australian, 4 August 2020 "Coronavirus: Hotel quarantine inquiry a lawyers’ picnic". Why the lawyers, do those called to appear, including EMV, have something to hide or worry that they’ll end up in a dog-eat-dog inquiry and someone may be 'thrown under a bus' by a failed responsible minister running for cover?
What then of planning for the approaching wildfire season?
Capability test, can the Emergency Management Commissioner simultaneously walk and chew gum?
As always, I would welcome your feedback.
Note that the coloured text indicates links to further information to be clicked on.