Thursday, 9 January 2020

"Politics on fire"

might be one way of putting it.
I am responding to some emails I have had from regular readers of the blog. They have all queried why the Downunder Prime Minister did not do more about the bush(wild) fire situation from the start.
This is a very complex issue and I don't really want to get involved in the politics of it.
The simple answer however is this.
Downunder has a written Constitution. It sets out the responsibilities of the "Commonwealth" - the federation of the states. All other issues are the responsibility of the states. 
The Commonwealth cannot interfere in state issues unless the government can find a means to do so under the Constitution. The Commonwealth can give the states help with state responsibilities if requested to do so - in certain circumstances.
Fire fighting is a state responsibility. The Prime Minister had to wait until help was requested. He could say (and reportedly did), "Do you want some help?" but he had no legal right to interfere. Giving help, even when requested to do so, involves spending money. That money is taxpayer money and has to be spent within the terms of the Constitution.
Are you with me so far? No Prime Minister has the legal capacity to take action outside the powers granted by the Constitution or spend taxpayer money doing so.
The other issue is this. The present Prime Minister has been criticised for being on holiday with his family in Hawaii and not coming back instantly. That criticism is also misplaced. First of all there was someone in charge - his deputy. Second, in this day and age he was being kept apprised of the situation at all times. Third, even if he had come back there was nothing he could have done - partly because no help had been requested. Fourth, people like Prime Ministers, Premiers and Presidents often holiday in another country. If they holiday here they attract attention and it is no holiday. The present Prime Minister spent his last summer holiday here and discovered that the media was all too happy to follow him around. 
Finally there is something I need to say from years of working in the area of what are technically known as "complex  humanitarian emergencies" or CHEs. It is this. The people who are responsible for administering the responses do not want visits from people who are simply there for political purposes or photo opportunities. The media would have it differently of course but visits from people like the Prime Minister - even when announcing funds will be available - are not really welcome. These people simply want to get on with the job. A previous Prime Minister was aware of that. He went out and fought the fires instead. He is out there fighting them now. He hasn't responded to requests for interviews because he knows that is not what emergency responses are about.
I have volunteered to do something I know I can do. It is why this post is late going up today. I can work on it from home. I will do as I  have been and am asked to do. The rest of the time I will stay out of the way.


Momkatz said...

Thank you, Cat. Your post gave me a much better understanding of what is going on. I wanted to ask but wasn't sure I had any standing. I try really hard to stay out of other country's politics. Praying and donating what I can, all I know to do.
Hugs and purrs, USA Big Sister Cat

Sheeprustler said...

I was already aware that fires were a state matter - but it's looking increasingly likely that Victorian and NSW fires will join in the near future, so I think they should be reminded of this fact:) Also, I see nothing wrong in the PM taking his children on a one week holiday. If he is anything like my husband I am sure that he was in constant phone contact as necessary.