Burning the surplus

Scott Morrison’s total paralysis in the face of the bushfire emergency gave rise to the most convincing excuse for his recent disappearance – he wasn’t doing anything anyway, so why shouldn’t he go?

Part of his problem is that any serious discussion of the problem involves climate change, and even one pull on that thread would risk unravelling the shroud of deception he and the rest of the right are sheltering beneath.

But surely Scotty from Marketing could come up with a campaign that appeared to take action on the bushfires themselves without doing anything about the underlying cause. There’s another factor that hasn’t been mentioned, as far as I can see.

What credibility the government has is tied to its claim that this is the year we will return to surplus for good. The mid-year outlook makes this pretty shaky, projecting a $5 billion surplus this year and $6 billion next year.

The economic impact of the fires is going to be at least as big as that, and the cost of a comprehensive program to respond to them even more. Property damage must be well into the billions (for comparison, the 2011 floods in Queensland were estimated to cost $10 billion), and the loss of business, particularly in tourism, much more than that.

Think of what would be needed for a basic program responding to the new normal (that is, normal, until things get even worse in the future). That includes payment of volunteer firefighters, massive new purchases of firefighting equipment, reequipping the defence forces to make them more useful in emergencies like this, and replacing damaged public infrastructure. It’s obvious that $5 billion a year would be little more than a down payment.

Until this particular element of reality penetrates Scott and Josh’s bubble, nothing serious will be done.

22 thoughts on “Burning the surplus

  1. Yep, armed forces need to pivot to what I would call a climate defence focus. Ditch the jet fighters and focus on landing ships, engineering vehicles, fire fighting aircraft, transports, etc. All the sort of stuff that helps civilian populations (here and O/S). At the moment the defence force is little more useful than right-wing daycare.

  2. More importantly, any serious spending will have to address the question “wouldn’t it be cheaper to prevent the disasters in the first place”. Which is a really strong reason not to even start down the path that leads inevitably that way.

  3. I saw a fire-fighter talking about how long it was taking to refill with water before being able to apply that water to the fire. Long turnaround times. There needs to be water sources closer by.

  4. “Property damage must be well into the billions”. Overheard snippet of Anastasia saying “we will underwite all claims”.

    Why don’t we just nationalise property insurance, as when the profit turns to a loss, we pay anyway.

     And if the firies have saved? ?? 6,000 ish properties??? why don’t they get the bonus ala a lloyds name?

    David A… “right-wing daycare” – excellent. The wing commanders of the f1-11 fleet use the fleet to “polish their brass” before moving on. About $50k per hr 1995.

  5. The Coalition will die in a ditch before giving up on a surplus. The Coalition has convinced a generation of voters “surplus good, deficit bad”. Even if they have wreaked havoc on the economy, they will go to the election proclaiming they are the “better economic managers” because they could deliver a surplus.

  6. But think of the smoke and mirrors GDP boost to come following on the flames!

    Maybe Smoko will even be allowed to actually trim the sky-high immigration numbers a bit, for a time, and make savings in AG, home affairs, and immigration depts.

    Smoko will be centre stage all cock-a-hoop crowing about the next few quarterly GDP figures and not skiving off with whereabouts a-known-unknown as for the MYEFO downer last week.

  7. “He’s on smoko, so leave him alone. He’s on smoko.” – Apologies to The Chats.

    Actually, I think Smoko also could be called Smirko. Did anyone else notice him smirking continuously while standing at the shoulder of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. She was talking on camera about bushfire issues and there was Smirko behind her smirking away. I wondered, what has he got to smirk about? Clearly, this is all one big joke to Smirko. It is patently obvious he is taking none of these events seriously at all. It’s not so much political paralysis as stupendous complacency, personal and political. It’s hard to be humble when you are perfect in every and indeed chosen as P.M. by a miracle from You-Know-Who.

    There’s something about the religious, science-denying right that makes me think they positively WANT to destroy the world. After all, that would usher in the Second Coming or the Rapture or whatever the heck it is they believe in. I’m getting to close to believing that they are destroying the world on purpose. What they are doing now is very close to deliberate sabotage of the biosphere.

  8. KT, it does seem as though the government should at least be getting the underwriter’s premiums from the insurers. Plus there’s the inevitable people who aren’t insured but somehow expect charity or ‘the gubbermint’ to step in and fix stuff up. I’m not really across the firefighter funding system, but I vaguely recall that after Black Saturday in Vic mention that firefighting is a levy on insurance so uninsured people are not contributing. Which is another reason to stop pretending that bushfire coverage comes from insurance companies… much harder to avoid a tax or rates levy. Rates are probably better because they’re local and can more easily vary with risk. Flip side is that local government is more easily captured by local idiots.

    The counterargument that I go with is that many of those properties should be uninsurable if they aren’t already, and people who inhabit them need to be told so in no uncertain terms. I like the Christchurch response, BTW, where once again the government steps in and buys people out of an unpredictable situation. I just struggle to see how that can apply to bushfires in Australia. As even Smoko agrees, bushfires happen almost anywhere rural every year… the only unpredictable bit is exactly where.

  9. @Ikonoclast

    The word you are looking for is nihilism, sadly not even anarchy. They are working hard on the State, they are working well on the “non people”, the untermensch, the economy where it relates to everyday life and survival, they have “The Grace” as the Scum happily trotted yesterday.

  10. Disaster or possibly just long term encumbancy appears the only way the conservative /extreme right / 1% governing aliances around the world might lose office . Smoko could survive another deficit or even make a green pivot if his masters want. Logic and truth are only bit parts in this drama.

  11. Moz – i also  ” like the Christchurch response, BTW, where once again the government steps in and buys people out of an unpredictable situation”.

    But! Says Smirko (good one Ikon ) ‘ We have to protect the surplus and gee what about interfering with the markets.’

    Today abc news has this;
    “Our transport system needs fixing, but a tax on electric vehicles isn’t the solution”

    Imo, we are framing and trying to fix vehicle death by  a reductionist method, “look at crash deaths” – conveniently setting up a single metric ‘framed’ enquiry. Yet as the graph above shows a systemic approach would have us making air pollution a high priority. Same with agw, energy, health, education… one metric, no systemic revelations continuing to attack sysmptoms not causes.

    “This report summarises the health impact of air and noise pollution on NSW’s roads and explains how electric vehicle (EV) adoption can help to address these issues while improving road safety. ”

    Can’t reference it now but I recently read that Australia has taken all the easy low hanging options re climate change. Time for a serious systemic review and pathway to  “Resilient & Not Much Different (for power hungry greedy & fearful people)”.

    “Relatively similar” was a phrase JQ used about his perceived 30yrs hence socialist future when on air with Joshua Muravchik and Tom Switzer. Relatively similar seemed like a great phrase to alleviate angst about the future. (Very poor paraphrasing)

    About 27mins… (listen for all the bait n switch / strawman etc “debating” techniques)

    JQ in above interview used vocational education as a come back to the -loaded – question “where is an example of a successful socialist govt”.  Excellent ad lib. I would become too emotional at the emotive language used – so, thanks.

    Merry times happy minds to all.

  12. Sunshine, 12:31pm, yeah, but the logic and truth of the matter is that according to the masters’ rule by duopoly here the proxy government baton would be handed to the ALP – different face, same janusian party.

    It took generations, organisation, solidarity, sacrifice, assassinations, terror campaigns, strikes, revolutions, rebellions, numerous financial crises, war upon war, world war, and a multitude’s grinding dedication to unrelenting struggle against bitter repression to slightly reform the filthy class/power structures imposed by the 1% of just the Belle Époque. The 0.01% masters of the universe of today are far better equipped to resist change than before. It is woefully horrendous to contemplate the scale of a disaster that might shake up the system and deliver a little decent global saving reform. Disaster will come to them in the end, and, cruelly, to all else as nature will bat last, that is, if they haven’t first struck out apocalyptically at each other and all else.

    The situation is serious, but hopeless, so we must struggle on.

    Here is no water but only rock
    Rock and no water and the sandy road
    The road winding above among the mountains
    Which are mountains of rock without water
    If there were water we should stop and drink
    Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
    Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
    If there were only water amongst the rock
    Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
    Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
    There is not even silence in the mountains
    But dry sterile thunder without rain
    There is not even solitude in the mountains
    But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
    From doors of mud-cracked houses

    If there were water
    And no rock
    If there were rock
    And also water
    And water
    A spring
    A pool among the rock
    If there were the sound of water only
    Not the cicada
    And dry grass singing
    But sound of water over a rock
    Where the song birds sing in the forest canopy
    Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
    But there is no water…

    – T.S. Eliot, 1922, The Waste Land, apologies lines 331-358, https://www.shmoop.com/the-waste-land/

    “All things, O priests, are on fire. And what, O priests, are all these things which are on fire?
    – Henry Clarke Warren, 1896, BUDDHISM IN TRANSLATIONS, 73 THE FIRE-SERMON, https://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bits/bit-2.htm

    “If you don’t fight you lose…”
    – Redgum, 1978, If You Don’t Fight You Lose, #10 Killing Floor
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bL62Bx9zuE (lyrics info)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dRKCtbR-4Iv (poster)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKHLBqFi37w (remix)

  13. Isn’t the Pentecostalists’ belief that climate change and all of its consequences are part of God’s plan sort of relevant here? No-one seems to be mentioning it as having some possible relation to Morrison’s startlingly laid-back attitude to the bushfires. My understanding is that they claim that we shouldn’t do anything to counter climate change because we would be interfering in the working-out of the Apocalypse. One of them rang 774 talkback in Melbourne last month to tell us so. They do not believe that God helps those who help themselves, unless of course they are talking about the unemployed and Newstart.

  14. Sound familiar?
    We will write this book soon;

    Decades of greed, neglect, corruption, and bad politics led to last year’s Paradise fire, the worst in California history. It should never have happened. It will happen again.

    “The Indians gave us the natural forest. Much of it was patchy, and the trees grew to differing heights,” he said. “This combination of open ground and uneven canopy kept the fires from raging. Now the fires are raging. They’re racing from forest to suburbia, and we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out why.”

    “Remember,” he said, “fire is a natural event in a healthy forest. It starts by lightning strike and usually burns itself out quickly. But before it does, it scorches the forest floor and thins out lower branches and shrubs. This helps tame the next fire. This allows new trees to generate. ”

    “No city in the Central Valley had ever put down a line in the farm dirt and declared it off-limits to suburbia. “Scratch a farmer and find a developer inside” was the saying. Selling out to a developer was the only retirement plan most farmers knew. But Dolan decided to draw such a line right there in the rich loam on the west side of Chico. She wanted to call it the “red line,” but the local paper had already branded her a “radical socialist.” She called it the “green line” instead. ”

  15. @kt2 that radio interview with Tom Switzer and Prof JQ and this Joshua Muravchik is kind of amazing – Switzer even in the first few minutes was talking over JQ while leaving Muravchik to talk freely, and the whole framing of the discussion is so very warped.

  16. @kt2 that radio discussion with Tom Switzer and Prof JQ and this Joshua Muravchik is really quite amazing – Switzer spent the first five minutes talking over JQ while letting Muravchik talk freely, and the whole framing of the discussion is really warped. Also, this Muravchik guy is pretty nuts – ranting about communism in this day and age?

  17. Simon / himi [ himi? A human ish robot from a tv show whose name I cant remember?]

    Upon hearing Josh n Tom [hi] re the future under [bait] socialism [ gee a hundred million dead! – dog whistle not stated ] JQ casually retorted “relatively similar”, imo completely defusing the implied doom.

    I am hoping JQ will start a political party called ” Relatively Similar”.

    JQ? Whay is the chance you’d do such? 1:1,000,000?

  18. Must segue, in the light of all the sneaky anti environment uglies sneaked out with the rubbish,involving water policy and other aspects of ecology. The lunacy involving these so called policies derives of greed, animus and repressive tolerance and denialism and is insane in its vandalism of the base resource, the enviro.

  19. “surely Scotty from Marketing could come up with a campaign that appeared to take action on the bushfires themselves without doing anything”

    He’s done the obvious, taking a leaf from John Howard’s playbook – he’s got the ADF to form a highly telegenic convoy!

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