Editorial May 1st 2020

Welcome to this week’s editorial, So close ….. but not quite yet before we are all allowed out an about again. And when we do venture back out there it will be different. There is no doubt of that. The bush fires made us aware of our mortality as it torched its way across the south east, destroying homes and property and impacting so may lives. It left us rattled and ill at ease. The place we called home, that was away from the madness of the world all of a sudden became a madness that very few of us could ever have imagined … right on our doorstep and threatening to burn down our doors. For most of us we came through it relatively unscarred, with the exception that we now knew we lived in a place once surrounded by nature with its abundance of forests and national parks, that was in fact an inferno waiting to happen again. And it will. It is only a matter of time. Following the bushfires there was a need for the community to do a reset across the region. Each and all of us looked at the bushfire maps, we each became desktop experts on knowing wind directions, anticipated ember attack zones and home readiness with our Bushfire plans. For those who lost their homes there has been the waiting for site clearing. It has taken a while but now it appears to be on track with many (or most) house sites destroyed by fire cleared of burnt material in readiness for a rebuild. But how many will rebuild? The answer is complex as it has so many factors that contribute to the decision. Was the house insured? Was it adequately insured? If the insurance wasn’t enough to pay for a rebuild then what next ? Sell the block of land and move? There are those among the 1000 houses destroyed who were underinsured and then there were the uninsured. For them the road ahead is going to be so much harder as they look to beginning over again with loans and debt. For those who were insured there is a new reality when they discover that, should they rebuild, they will not be insurable, or, if they are, it will be at a premium they can ill afford. For many the decision will be to clear the site and sell the land. To move to another town locally or even relocate to where family are, to where it is more affordable, or to rent. Adding to those 1000 homes and families will be the newly impacted COVID generation who lost jobs, who are now behind in rent, utilities, mortgages, rates and more. The Bushfire recovery grants have helped, the Job Seeker and Job Keeper funds will keep things buoyant for a short while but at some point those government hand outs will come to an end. And when it does the reveal of the new Normal will be stark as we discover so many shops closed and so many unemployed. While we made much of queuing for toilet paper, sanitiser, pasta and sugar there will be many in the near distant future who will be queuing for food handouts. Sadly, once again, like with the bushfires and COVID, we will be caught unprepared. Until next—Lei

There is a long road ahead that is unmapped - and where are driving flat out towards it.

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