Weather goes crazy as Nats go nowhere

Opinion: Weather goes crazy as Nats go nowhere

Opinion
Many parts of the bush received rainfall over a couple of days equalling or exceeding the total falls of previous years, bringing much-needed relief. Photo by Hayley Warden.

Many parts of the bush received rainfall over a couple of days equalling or exceeding the total falls of previous years, bringing much-needed relief. Photo by Hayley Warden.

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Dorothea Mackellar had it pretty right when she wrote, in My Country, about 'droughts and flooding rains'.

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Dorothea Mackellar had it pretty right when she wrote, in My Country, about 'droughts and flooding rains'.

Add in 'bushfires' (which she does, in a later verse) and you have the Australian trifecta of catastrophic elemental visitations to which our country is so notoriously prone.

Seldom, if ever, though, have we experienced them before in such diabolically rapid succession. One can only try to imagine how the people feel who lost homes and so much else to wildfires, just weeks (or even days) before the heavens opened.

In my own case, it's only a few weeks ago that I was perched on my roof here in the Upper Blue Mountains, watching the Gospers Mountain fire roaring along the ridge of Bells Line of Road, wreaking havoc as it went at Dargan, Bell and Bilpin.

Yet in the four days from last Thursday, I measured 342mm of rain, or about one-third of our average annual rainfall - part of the reason for the dramatic recovery in the level of Warragamba Dam.

It was a similar story in many parts of the bush, with rainfalls over a couple of days equalling or exceeding the total falls of previous years, bringing much-needed relief and hope. But many areas missed out, or received only a sample of the rains that drenched the coast, and the drought is far from over.

Meanwhile the ructions go on in Canberra, with Scott Morrison's leadership and the government's hold on office being continually undermined by the very public divisions within the Nationals.

Last week's unsuccessful leadership challenge by Barnaby Joyce clearly hasn't ended his campaign to wrest the top job from Michael McCormack, although David Littleproud could yet emerge as the more widely acceptable candidate.

Hard-working and well-intentioned McCormack might well be, but he has failed to make an impression, at a time when his rural constituents are hurting like hell and need a strong man at their head in Canberra.

The most successful leaders of the Nationals (and previously, Country Party, as it should still be!) were all men of mark who weren't afraid to put their heads above the parapet or to court controversy or use brinkmanship to champion their constituents' cause.

At a time like this, and regardless of any past indiscretions, the Nationals can't afford to have proven performers like Joyce, Bridget McKenzie and Matt Canavan languishing in the back bench 'sin bin'.

The only positive, in my view, to come out of the latest reshuffle that saw McKenzie and Canavan replaced in Cabinet by Keith Pitt and Darren Chester, is the boost it might provide to the nuclear energy cause, given Pitt's strong pro-nuclear views.

If Australia is to have a secure energy future, and meet its targets for lower emissions of CO2, then it's hard to see how nuclear energy - for which we are uniquely well endowed - won't be part of the mix.

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