As it Happened.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/11/2019 - 3:03am in

The still above is part of a short video (1 minute and 10 seconds) produced by an ABC News crew last Tuesday November 12. I reckon in its brevity it captures and describes with eloquence the situation Australia and the world is going through right now.

I will ask readers to watch the video, but before that, study that image carefully.

The camera operator focuses on the man wearing the hat, at the centre: that man was giving a press conference.

The improvised placards behind him, however, are visible. They were put there, one supposes, by those attending the conference. One reads “Where R U ScoMo?”;(a little note on this below); another displays the question “Why Are Our Rainforests Burning?” (rain-forests and cloudy forests, precisely because of that, are humid and normally should not burn). The third one shows the predicate (i.e. “Needs to Act Now”) of a sentence, whose subject (presumably “Australia”) is not shown in the image.

Overseas readers may need a little background here (local readers can skip this and go straight to the video).

That man is Anthony Albanese, MP. The Australian Labor Party -- of which Albanese is federal leader -- has the second largest fraction in the Australian Parliament, after the combined Liberal/Nationals fraction. It is, therefore, the main opposition party. It is also a centre-left party.

The Liberal and National parties, as a coalition, are in government; both have liberal (in the classical liberal, not the American, sense of the word) and conservative wings. The current Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison (the “ScoMo” in the placard), MP, is also the federal Liberal Party of Australia leader. He is closer to the conservative wing of the Coalition.

That was him in 2017:

Albanese was visiting the township of Nimbin (population less than 2,000), in northeast NSW, during the first week of bushfires. The fires, I believe, didn’t reach Nimbin proper; but its surroundings weren’t spared. (During bushfires, emergency authorities often urge those living in isolated areas to seek refuge in towns.)

Tasmania, SA and WA have already been affected, but fires there were quickly put out. It is in NSW and QLD where they are currently more intense. To put this differently, so far only the Northern Territory and Victoria have not been affected. As I write (Sunday 17) and referring to NSW alone:

  1. The death toll has reached 4 confirmed deaths (I have no details of other 2).
  2. Nearly 500 structures (ranging from sheds to homes) have been destroyed.
  3. Over 1.5 millions hectares have been devastated.
  4. At least one suburb of Sydney (South Turramurra) was affected. The fire outbreak was swiftly controlled before it could reach nearby homes.

This is only spring, most of Eastern Australia is in drought and the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts no substantial rains in the incoming months.

This is where readers can find the video, plus a brief story by ABC News reporters Jessica Kidd and Selby Stewart. I prepared a partial transcript (at the end), should readers find Albanese’s pronunciation difficult. It includes the journalist’s question and Albanese’s answer until the moment a local woman cuts him short.

I have my own opinion about the whole episode, but it’s the readers’ opinion that matters here. So, you be judge.


Journalist: “The Greens’ Adam Bandt has said that the Government is putting lives at risk when they’ve done everything in their power to make the risk of these bushfires worse. Do you agree?”

Anthony Albanese: “Look, I’m not interested in trying to politicise at all. Lives are still at risk, properties are at risk. There’s a time for huh debate about issues, including climate change. I believe in climate change; it is real. We know that bushfires are coming earlier. We know they’re more intense. That is what it was predicted and that we see that happening. But I don’t think it’s the time to engage in party politics …”

Local woman: “It’s not party politics. It’s our reality”.