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a wake-up call to government

The Beagle Editor, I'm surviving in Tuross Head at this stage but concerned about the weekend with heatwave and wind predicted from Central Coast to Vic border.

I'm prepared but it all depends on the wind.

Bear with me while I sound alarm bells about the fragile state of our economy and lifestyle under these circumstances. On new year's eve fires were in the region , smoke had been in the air for days and an eerie red glow in the late afternoon sky.

It was suddenly very dramatic as the power failed, blackout. A distinct feeling of impending doom in the air. I cancelled my plans to go out. Then I ran hoses around the house attached to various taps, dug out candles, torches, batteries, I had fuelled the car before the holiday season and had food in cupboard and a very important petrol generator. I have my own water tanks connected via a pump to the garden taps. Over the next two days, fires consumed homes north and south of me in Cobargo, Mogo, Batemans Bay. With no power, internet and phone use was rare I got some news from my radio but not enough.

Roads north and south were closed and tourists trapped in villages. Most shops were closed , those open were in darkness and Cash Only signs in front. Stock running out, petrol could not be pumped. Credit cards useless. No doubt people were sleeping in cars and in hastily arranged community halls. Word came out that power could be off for several more days in the region (and is still off after 10 days in some areas of the shire) while fires still burn somewhere nearby.

Luckily the weather was mild in the days after NYE and the power came on at my place around 4am Thursday. That morning shops and service stations were packed as people stocked up and departed when roads opened. People remained sensible and orderly although anxious. This was only a few days without electricity, communication signals and credit cards to cause near total disruption to our local economy and lifestyle. Just a few days. What if a more widespread natural disaster , or intentional sabotage, lasted for two weeks or two months or beyond ? There would likely be severe impact to our wellbeing, security, safety, economy that may leave our country vulnerable.

This is hopefully a wake-up call to government to review our current infrastructure, such as back-up services for power and communications ( eg: more public landline pay-phones, not less, they were the main communication for many ), address Global Warming causes, train and deploy the Defence Services for a more active role in homeland emergency assistance as a main function, more fuel reserves around the nation ( approx. only two weeks in reserve now ), perhaps solar/batteries incorporated in communication towers etc.

Wouldn't it be nice to have, for a change, a government with a proactive focus on the long term instead of the next election.

Happy New Year Australia for 2020.

Gary Smith. Tuross Head

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