An open letter to the PM

Christopher Nicholls, a firefighter from Merimbula, has written an open letter to the Scott Morrison calling him to account for failing to treat the fires as a national emergency and simply offering "prayers and thoughts".

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you as a member of the Far South Coast of NSW community, and as a bush firefighter with our local RFS Brigade. You need to listen to me. I swore that if I heard the word, “unprecedented” one more time I would write to you. I heard it again tonight in comments by experts over the megafire around Sydney. So, here’s your letter. There is one more thing that is ‘unprecedented’. It’s your Government’s complete INACTION over the current bushfire emergency in Australia. And please don’t tell me about the pathetic response so far with more thoughts and prayers from Hillsong.

This is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY not a minor weather event. We are not frantically impressed with these platitudes down here. When I see my colleagues from my brigade jump into a plane or a bus to take them up north in a strike team to go into battle against an unprecedented enemy of catastrophic proportions, I wonder if we might ever see them again. And they are my friends and wonderful people. 

When my RFS pager goes off in the middle of a hot, blustery severe fire danger day and I have to rush off to a bushfire, and as I am sitting in the truck proceeding under sirens and lights to the fire, I wonder if this might be my last day too. We don’t have time for you to sit on your hands and wish us platitudes and cricket news.

Here’s what we need you to do: 1. Treat the situation as if it was a WAR being waged on Australia by an unpredictable enemy with considerable weaponry, capable of jumping front lines easily and attacking from several fronts simultaneously, with devastating results. It takes no prisoners.

2. Treat each event as a BATTLE and a part of the WAR.

3. Appoint a WAR cabinet with special powers to mobilise the country, the armed services and whatever resources are required to fight the battles to win the WAR.

4. The WAR is CLIMATE CHANGE, and the battles are fires, drought, intense weather events such as tropical cyclones and other climate related phenomenon in the new normal of the climate-changed world.

5. The WAR is the long game – and will be fought over several decades into the future, so there needs to be planning and task forces and armies and technology and considerable ingenuity.

6. Support your people – the people of Australia: tell them the Government cares and is actually mobilising and doing something about it.

7. Do it, and let’s worry about the platitudes some other day.

Yours sincerely

Chris Nicholls