Pain will persist well beyond this summer’s disasters
FLOODS, cyclones and bushfires have torn apart people’s lives and communities in recent weeks, but it’s their legacy that could be even more painful.
Hearts went out to the victims of the Queensland floods in particular, galvanising a wave of support around the country and raising hundreds of millions of dollars in donations.
At the same time, floods and bushfires spanning the eastern states through to the west spread the suffering.
Then Cyclone Yasi smashed into the north Queensland coast last week and continued to head inland, adding another page to the whirlwind of damage.
While sympathy again has been evident for the victims of Yasi, another trend of disaster overload seems to be emerging in many online forums.
What is increasingly obvious is that everyone is going to have to pay for the recovery from these disasters in one way or another, even those living thousands of kilometres from the destruction zones.
Much of the disaster debate has centred on the Federal Government’s proposed flood levy, aimed at assisting to rebuild Queensland’s infrastructure.
While many were prepared to donate to support the flood victims, their sense of generosity dried up when it came to the idea of paying a compulsory levy to help rebuild public assets.
As Phil pointed out in a comment to ABC Online: “Why should we contribute to government infrastructure in a state that is not accountable to me? The issue is that different state governments don’t set up a contingency fund like a good business but instead know they can just slug a captive population of taxpayers - and let’s pick on the rich.”
Prime Minister Gillard’s announcement of who will be exempt from paying the levy, including income earners below the $50,000 threshold and those directly affected by the floods and Yasi, only split opinion further.
Brissy wrote to The Courier-Mail: “The rate that these exemptions are going, there won’t be anyone else left to pay the levy.”
Political personas have also come under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Yasi and flood disasters.
While Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has been widely hailed for her no-nonsense authority and humanity during the dual Queensland crises, the shine has failed to rub off on Prime Minister Gillard, whose flying visit to the cyclone-hit communities in north Queensland did little to deflect a perception by some of her “wooden” appearance during the disasters.
As Sggme commented on Yahoo7: “She is trying to copy Anna Bligh. Trouble is Anna Bligh does care, whereas Gillard does not.”
Some of the traditional media also copped a battering for their coverage of Cyclone Yasi.
In one case, a breakfast TV presenter castigated people in Cairns for venturing out into a park during the cyclone while he was hosting the show from the same location.
In a sign of the increasing role of citizen journalism, social media came to the fore in informing the world about Yasi. In many cases, forums such as Twitter and Facebook supplied breaking leads on the cyclone’s progress and damage trail that the other media, with their reporters embedded in hotels and on the street corner outside their suites, could never hope to compete with.
The phenomenon of cittizen journalism also bore fruit on the Punch with this piece, courtesy of Magnetic Island resident and regular Punch reader and commenter David Pierce.
Peter Lawson of Sale criticised the traditional media’s coverage in a comment on the Herald Sun: “Why does the media treat this cyclone like any bad news. They think they’re doing us a favour by sending their number one reporters into the area in gumboots, holding an umbrella making out like they’re in the war zone! It’s contrived rubbish.”
The flood waters may have subsided in Queensland and Yasi may have come and gone, but the pain left behind by these disasters will be felt by all Australians for many months or even years.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…