National Emergency Medal
In Grantham and beyond, they searched for bodies in battered houses and hot, swampy fields. Clearing debris from footpaths, roads and yards. Eighteen months before, they’d fought the inferno in southern and central Victoria, fighting fires, saving lives, and making endless cups of tea.
They’re Australian volunteers - thousands of them - who left jobs and families to lend a hand to the natural disaster recovery efforts that swept across our eastern states in the past three years.
Their work saved lives and homes. Comforted hearts, and made towns livable again. Actions fit for a reward of huge proportions. But here’s what they got instead. A muddled up medal with serious eligibility issues and a confusing criteria that ignored the efforts of thousands of others. And a bungled up awards ceremony. Seem unfair to you? Well, here’s how it happened.
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The Australia Day event at The Lobby in Canberra has become all about Tony Hodges, Kim Sattler, Barbara Shaw, Michael Anderson, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, the police and a bunch of idiots who saw fit to hijack the day. It wasn’t supposed to be about them.
Our political leaders had gathered at the restaurant to bestow the new National Emergency Medal on 26 Australians who, paid or unpaid, did extraordinary work during the Victorian Bushfires and Queensland floods.
In her speech before the event was hijacked by an appalling set of bad decisions the Prime Minister said: “Today we award these Medals to a group of Australians who inspired us with their courage and service during two of the most devastating summers of natural disaster Australia has ever witnessed: the Victorian bushfires of 2009 and the Queensland floods and cyclone of December 2010 and January 2011.”
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