Bushfire reduction deserves investment from our government

Bushfire reduction deserves investment from our government

Opinion
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John Carter puts forward his view on the current bushfire situation.

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A bushfire burns north west of Nowra on the south coast. This photo was taken on the day it crossed the Shoalhaven River. Photo by Hayley Warden

A bushfire burns north west of Nowra on the south coast. This photo was taken on the day it crossed the Shoalhaven River. Photo by Hayley Warden

Captain Cook's log while on his 1770 voyage up the east coast (during that mid-century tree killing drought) continually refers to inland smoke.

Droughts and major fires are linked.

My family had livestock burnt in the 1902 and 1983 droughts.

Dad was the first secretary of our Cotta Walla Bushfire Brigade, formed in 1933.

The brigade had long poles with leather beaters attached and later, some tin water knapsacks.

Things improved. We acquired an old US Army truck that was cumbersome but carried a tank and pump. We had none of today's protective clothing.

Phil Koperberg, a Blue Mountains Fire Captain, changed NSW firefighting and life preservation dramatically through centralised control from Homebush - new trucks, aircraft and camera technology.

The defence effort in the worst catastrophe since white settlement has been incredible.

The "Fires Near Me" maps have been amazing. Yet many are critical.

Why wasn't there more fuel reduction?

Well, there was more done in 2019 than ever despite Green opposition, smoke complaints, and wind changes making such operations hazardous.

Why don't we adopt the Aboriginal soft burning? Well, read the following excerpt from the diary of Lady Ann Thomson (Governor Bourke's daughter) written in Government House on December 19, 1831.

Yesterday the hills which I described to you as being across the bay, just opposite my windows, were set fire to by the natives and looked so very fine. They were one continued blaze of light and they have been burning all this day. Last night the shipping was quite lit up by the fires. The forest wood very often catches fire of itself, it is so very dry that the friction caused by the hot winds light it up directly. It is a great pity.

Our little annual Bushfire meeting was held in a sitting room followed by a wonderful supper. Georgie Woods would tell his annual story of how he could have stopped a 1960's fire if he had had his felt hat full of water at its start. Simple and obvious, but now overlooked as water knapsacks for anyone working outside on bad days become rare and population growth increases mistakes and stupidity.

Peter Marshall's letter to The Land (December 26) gave hope.

I quote part. "The Government is purchasing General Atomics MQ-9B" Sky Guardians - big, uncrewed surveillance and attack aircraft. If these $1.3 billion worth of weapons can put a missile through an ISIS commander's window, then they can orbit our forests after lightning storms, detect spot fires and call in precision water drops".

A stitch in time saves nine.

Canberra is spending absurd money on outdated submarines.

Bushfires globally are a major contributor to greenhouse emissions.

Many scientists see them as a threat to humanity.

Surely their reduction is more important than the deliberate killing of humans who are out of favour with the US.

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