REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: A little less conversation and a little more action?

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by the ACM digital news editor Janine Graham.

No filter: Smoke from a bushfire settles over Parliament House. Picture: Marina Neil

No filter: Smoke from a bushfire settles over Parliament House. Picture: Marina Neil

Imagine a major in the Australian Army suggesting that climate change was a thing and in times of disaster there was a place for troops to be involved?

Wait. It's happened. Yup, last year. But more on that in a moment.

It's worth mentioning this as parts of the country continue to explode into a series of terrifying fireballs, "Pacman-ning" their way across states and even joining up to form a "mega-fire".

While this happened last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in Canberra. It was the final sitting week of parliament, after all.

The NSW South Coast, about 200km from the corridors of power, was the cause of most fire concern. Well, for everyone other than Mr Morrison it seemed. He has defaulted to Quiet Australian on fires, changed climate and the prospect of a nationally-organised response.

But, wouldn't you know it, after being slammed left, right and centre over the weekend for his impersonation of Harold Holt, Australia's other missing Prime Minister, up he popped - in suburban north-western Sydney. The RFS HQ at Wilberforce, actually.

It's almost twice the distance from Canberra as the South Coast. But no matter.

From all accounts, the PM's visit involved a look a maps, a chat with RFS head honchos and a Prime Ministerial message to the volunteers over the radio.

The last time Mr Morrison was spotted in a fire-affected area was back on November 10 - in Wauchope, on NSW's Mid-North Coast.

It was, to all intents and purposes a photo opportunity. The RFS is too polite to say as much and we Real Australians, after all, should probably be grateful to see such political might in the flesh.

Quite possibly the unspoken thoughts were the same at Wilberforce as they were at Wauchope: "Is it over yet?"

RFS Incident controller Kam Baker briefing Prime Minister Scott Morrison with a slew of pollies and media in Wauchope back in November. Photo: Peter Daniels

RFS Incident controller Kam Baker briefing Prime Minister Scott Morrison with a slew of pollies and media in Wauchope back in November. Photo: Peter Daniels

The combination of hangers-on, political and otherwise, caused all manner of disruption. Hence why the PM and his squad's absence from the South Coast could well have been a blessing in disguise.

But when oh when is the time for actual leadership? Or, hang on to your hats, for action even?

The nation is burning, it's that simple. Six people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed.

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported smoke being so heavy it's appearing like significant rain on its radars; the term "mega-fire" is dropped like with as much frequency as Mitch Marsh.

Katherine in the NT had 16 consecutive days of above 40-degree maximums in November; a total fire ban is in force across parts of central Victoria today; a shipping container full of fireworks exploded near Brisbane and needed 35 crews and four aircraft to bring it under control. This is not normal.

Nope, nothing to see here. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Nope, nothing to see here. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

When do the volunteers get a break? When are the troops called in?

Maybe Major Zac von Bertouch, a General Service Officer in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, has the answer. In 2018 he wrote an article on the Australian Army, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in 2018.

"When combined with the knowledge that climate change is increasing the frequency and scale of extreme weather events, the data emphasises the importance of improving the Australian Army's capability and preparedness to contribute to HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) responses," he wrote.

So, here's an opportunity in your backyard, Mr Morrison. On the job training for our troops which just may well enhance our reputation in the region.

AND help desperate Australians.

But wait, the footnote says it all "the views expressed ... do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government."

Janine Graham, ACM digital news editor

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