Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Australian Way.

During the past few days there have been many messages passed around, through Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, having a whinge about the measly sum our Federal and State Government donated to the public Flood Appeal. There have been complaints about the possibility of a rise in our taxes and the very real possibility of a rise in our country's deficit.

Contrary to those believing that this type of complaining is unAustralian and unjustified, the Australian way has always been to have a good whinge about anything that may affect our lives. Even those instances that don't really affect us at all. Our cricket team, our swimming team, our soccer team, our politicians, the 'Greenies', the stock market, our dollar, internet shopping........You name it, we whinge.

Thankfully, we have two things working in contrast to the whingers that will counteract and perhaps cancel out the complaints.

First and foremost is our other 'Australian way'. We are nothing, if not generous. To those in need in the southern parts of our state and perhaps later, those affected in NSW, Victoria and Tassie, we will continue to give as much money as we can possibly afford. We will offer our support in any way we can and if asked, will rise to the occasion and get our communities galvanised in a particular direction to ensure what is needed is provided. Whether it be hands on assistance when the floods have passed, linen and clothing for those in emergency accommodation, help with re-locating animals or just well wishes and heartfelt sympathy for those who have lost so much. It's what we do. It's the Australian way.

There have been many, many stories of courage, mateship and community spirit throughout this ordeal and those stories will linger long after the water recedes. We are very lucky to have such strong community's in Australia, resilient and resourceful. They will re-build their lives and continue on, but only with our help.

The second part to the story is the actual contribution by both main tiers of government. In no way will the 1 million contributed to kick start the public appeal be significant in the actual cost of these floods. Already the Government has spent huge amounts on military, police and specialised services to assist those in the flooded region. They have spend large amounts on helicopters, search and rescue missions and on establishing shelters for those in need. All this, and the water is still rising.

When the water is gone, all tiers of government will then have some massive amounts of money to shell out for the re-building of 75 percent of our state. New roads, sewage plants, electricity and water infrastructure. This process alone will cost several billion dollars to complete.

Then there are the emergency payments available to families for clean-up and for food and clothing. These amounts are also not insignificant with $25'000 available per family and separate payments of $400 per child and $1000 per adult for the most urgent purchases of food and clothing. With so many affected, these payments will total millions of dollars.

The Centrelink payments that will become immediately available to those who have lost their source of income will cost millions. The task force set up to help the residents get back home and start the healing process will cost millions.

So many needs, so much cost. The numbers are staggering and the cost to our nation will be felt for some time to come. Will our taxes rise? Probably not. They didn't with Larry and they didn't with the bushfires and while this disaster is on a whole other scale, my belief is that they will refrain from adding the cost to our taxes in this instance as well.

Will our deficit rise in Queensland and Federally? Probably, you could almost say definitely. How will that affect us? In Queensland it will be an interesting time ahead. While we will have a bigger debt and our credit rating as a state will go back to previous levels, there will be more work here that at any time previously. For tradespeople and builders, there will be a massive boom in work due to the flooding. For labourers, clothing stores, furniture traders and raw material and timber yards there will be a huge boost in trade over the coming months.

This may mean that tradespeople will leave the north and travel south for the work so that possibility must be taken into account. It may mean that the whingers who already feel the south east corner is getting the bulk of state monies will whinge harder. It may mean that we have a substantial increase in the costs of fresh food in Australia because the flooded area was a production area for so many of our food industries. We may be living on seafood and chicken for the next year while the farmers replenish their beef stock.

All of those potential issues are temporary and things we can live with in the short term. After Larry we had a massive influx of people from all over Australia wanting to lend a hand, those people helped prop up the economy, helped heal the community and helped re-build Innisfail and surrounds so that life could continue there. There is no denying that this crisis will require the same assistance from all those who can help out and nobody would deny the affected areas that right.

For the next few days, rescuers will be uncovering tragic stories and the death toll from the floods will most assuredly rise. The SES, the Police, Military and political leaders (especially Anna Bligh) have ensured that this unfolding disaster is getting all assistance possible and that the lives of so many have been saved. This is not a time for blame, this is not a time for worrying about our taxes. This is a time to lend a hand, to encourage and support those who are assisting the relief efforts and to lend our ears and our compassion to communities that have been devastated.

Our hearts go out to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and also to those who have been given the task of searching the areas where there are missing people.

It's been a tragic week in Queensland. In respect for those who have lost so much, let's suspend our Aussie whinging and focus instead on trying to lend a hand. It's a much better use of our skills.


  1. The infrastructure rebuild will be funded by what is called NDRRA. I am surprised and somewhat disgusted that people are not only using this situation as an opportunity to have a stab at a government who have been just inspiring throughout this whole things. The ignorance of people jumping on the blame and finger pointing bandwagon just so they can have a dig. I'm saddened and disgusted. Nice post Leigh! Let's remind people of what is important right now!

  2. The Australian Way about this tragedy will include the coverup of the gross mismanagement of Wivenhoe dam for political reasons. And the gross lack of flood control dams across this country. Every advanced country in the world has managed their rivers properly. Think Three Gorges in China, built to solve the flooding problems on the Yantze.

    Were too busy with broadband boondoggles.

  3. Ahh Richard. There will be blame placed on many individuals, many past and the present Government for what has occurred in the southern parts of our State. My only hope is that when the re-building really begins, they plan better for future events such as this one. If the river system north of Brisbane had coped better with the water inflow, the Wivenhoe Dam would have been enough to keep the water out of Brisbane to a much larger degree. Without the dam, Brisbane would have been under for the past 3 weeks and the peak would have put the whole city under. Mismanaged or not, it saved a lot of homes and perhaps even some lives.

    The building of high set homes MUST be a strong consideration in the future, adequate drainage (and directional flow) of the river around Toowoomba and flood mitigation work on the Bruce Hwy near Rocky should be immediate considerations.

    If the re-build of infrastructure is to be as substantial as they are predicting, do it right this time. Plan for these flooding events as if they are 30year floods, not 100yr floods.

    I don't know if dams are the answer, I am not really capable of commenting on specifics about this issue as I have no expertise in the area. Whatever the answer is, I really hope that the Governments all work together to build it properly, whatever the cost.