Thursday, January 16, 2020

Australia's Economic Damage: A$1 Billion

Boats are pulled ashore as smoke and wildfires rage behind Lake Conjola, a town popular as an “aquatic playground” on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia, January 02, 2020 

Cape Du Couedic Road on Kangaroo Island is no longer the picture of pristine beauty after extensive bushfires 

Australian beach town, Mallacoota – destroyed by bushfires – is pictured on January 12, 2020

Property damage shown January 01, 2020 in Sarsfield, Victoria in Australia

I saw a news report in the Sydney Morning Herald published Wednesday that tourists are abandoning regional Victoria and New South Wales in droves, with cancellation rates of more than 60 percent even in places outside the bushfire zones causing enormous economic damage of up to A$1 billion. 

The vast majority of cancellations come from Australians choosing to stay home, leaving industry experts to call for new campaigns urging people to get back out and spend money on their holidays. More than ever, Australians need to “Cuti Cuti Australia”! 

It appears that international visitors have so far not been cancelling to the same extent as the locals – but industry experts warn Australia's reputation as a "pristine" destination will take a hit due to worldwide coverage of the devastating fires and loss of wildlife. 

The Aussie government needs to take these yearly “fire” incidents more seriously – Scott Morrison cannot simply pretend that they are merely annual occurrences and Australians will deal with them as they have done year in and year out. 

In fact, as the country burned, Morrison left for a holiday in Hawaii, USA. And Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack even labelled those linking the conditions to climate change as “inner-city raving lunatics”. 

The 2019-2020 fire crisis is unprecedented and is the scientifically predicted outcome of long-term global warming. 

Despite being the most fire-prone continent, Australia does not have its own substantial national, professionally-staffed fleet of water-bombing planes and helicopters. Instead, a joint federal-state government authority, the National Aerial Firefighting Centre contracts aircraft from private companies, many from the US, depending on their availability and price of hire. The NAFC has been requesting greater funding since at least 2016 and received only token additional resources. 

The state services responsible for fighting fires outside of the metropolitan areas are largely made up of volunteers. As recent weeks have demonstrated again, community-based fire units with intimate knowledge of the local terrain and conditions are irreplaceable in the midst of fires. However, the personnel and equipment available to bodies such as the Rural Fire Service in NSW and Country Fire Authority in Victoria are grossly inadequate. 

And the military call-up has only served to underscore the extent to which the civilian fire, health and other services have been denied the funding, equipment and staffing necessary to respond to the type of conditions they now face. 

Sigh, the world would be a better place if we don’t have these self-serving politicians! 

On Tuesday, I was at yet another Toastmasters meeting. I arrived late but still managed to deliver a speech from the Special Occasion Speeches manual, project #5 Receiving an Award. 

The Shah Alam Toastmasters meeting was a little less lively than usual but it was still a quality meeting!

If you must know, this is my penultimate speech before I can earn my next Advanced Communicator Silver award.

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