Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Queensland floods are a disaster for hundreds of thousands of people and the true cost will flow on for many years. Billions of dollars of damage to homes, businesses, farms, stock losses roads, rail, airports as well as the personal loss of things that cannot be replaced - such as lives in a few cases.
Julia Gillard, our Prime Minister should hang her head in shame at her offer of $1million in aid to Queensland after giving $300million to Indonesia to build schools - I wonder how many schools were destroyed in these floods and many towns are still under water and will be for some time.
Insurers true to form are refusing to pay up because much of the huge areas are flood plain, and always have been - but were happy to take the money that was paid to them by people believing they were covered.

Most Australians have always been quick to put their hands in their pockets for earthquakes in New Zealand, Tsunamis in Indonesia and whenever huge tragedy strikes as it has here in Queensland many of us have the attitude, that it could have easily happened to me, rather than turning a blind eye.

I hope the UN and the world community will understand the hugeness of what has happened, and the area involved - we will all in Australia feel the cost but mainly at the supermarket as many areas are major food producers - and higher prices will be the only way we are touched - especially in the cities.

I live on a flood plain and the images of houses on mounds such as mine is, submerged to their roofs for over a week now is mind blowing. Nothing would be able to be saved by most as they were evacuated, many by helicopter - just the odd photo album. To see the faces of those so devastated, and know it could so easily happen here, is to understand how much I sometimes take for granted all that I have - My folders of mum's letters; my copies of Dad's letters to mum in the 1940's - over 140 of them - my many albums of family events and gatherings - written things - for me it would be these things I would have trouble recovering from - but really it is the people who are important - not the things.

The Victorian fires, last year, and now the devastating floods (luckily without the high death toll of the fires) Dorothea Mackellar said it all in her poem(1906) that every child from my generation learned by heart, the second verse is how it really is especially for those of us not living in the cities -
"I love a Sunburnt Country
The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded Lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens,
Is running in your veins;
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies -
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me.

The tragic ring-barked forests
Stark white beneath the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
An orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the crimson soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart around us
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold;
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown Country
My homing thoughts will fly."

Sadly as with the Victorian Fires, much of this tragedy could have been prevented if successive governments listened to the people who understand this country as did Dorothea - and put into practice "the wild rivers" by creating dams at strategic places to catch water such as this - to prevent much of the flooding and to prevent the suffering that will come with the next drought only a few years down the track. Australia could be the food basket of the world if instead of politicians thinking about four years ahead, they saw the bigger picture of working together to flood and drought proof much of the country - Once they build a gas pipeline from South Australia accords to the eastern states - a huge task. The Ord River in the Northern territory spills the value of two Sydney harbours back into the ocean a day during the monsoons - if only some of this was stored and then piped to western Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, this country would have as much water as needed and droughts would never bite so hard in the future.

I listen to some of the older people who have seen the cycles which affect us all, and understand how this land is because of personal experience and I hear more common sense from them, delivered with humility and insight - than I ever hear from those who think milk and bread come from the supermarkets and don't understand the true cost when things go terribly wrong as they have yet again...maybe Dorothea Mackellar's poem should once again be taught to every Australian child - so they can begin to understand - we have to work with this land and use what comes in abundance for times when there is no abundance...


FoxyMoron said...

I agree with everything you wrote Therese, wholeheartedly. The governments MUST listen to the people who know about the land and how it works. I realised how little I knew when I became a country dweller eleven years ago, I still don't know much but I know a lot more than I did and have met so many people, country born and bred who have such a wealth of knowledge. Why can't they be the highly paid consultants the governments are so fond of recruiting? Get me started on wasting taxpayers money. One of my pet peeves is the overseas junket. Why, with the internet, Skype and everything else available do politicians need to take these hugely expensive overseas trips all the time?
However, I'm proud to be Aussie at times like this when everyone pitches in to help those who need it.

karisma said...

I cannot fathom why they build on flood plains to start with. Or if we must why not cater and build up on stilts? We have had the same happen here as they continue to build on the wetlands. Just because we had a little drought, they think its okay?

My mum is pretty big on family tree and has a letter written over 100 years ago about a terrible flood in the Hunter Valley, it was amazing to read. Her writing was not the best but she told it as it was. SCARY stuff! Yet, they built that area up nice and suburby! I can see more floods coming. Its natures course. Not much any human can do to change it.

Now me? I am just waiting for the next one here. Our last one was a doozy!

Andrew said...

Early days for money to be forthcoming from the Federal Government. There will be a lot to be spent by government agencies and pressure needs to go on to ministers to each get there share of largess for their departments. Victoria's fires resulted in a terrible death toll and complete loss of so much. Queensland floods are slower acting and the response will be slower. I wouldn't expect the public generosity to be the same, but I would expect substantial money from the Feds. I hope someone takes up the volunteer fencing project that happened in Victoria. It was a great effort and helped many on the land.