REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Sorry, PM, you said what?

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 ACM digital news editor Janine Graham.

Donna Anthony, Chris Nicholls and Ron Innes: volunteer firies all. We say THANK YOU.

Donna Anthony, Chris Nicholls and Ron Innes: volunteer firies all. We say THANK YOU.

Whether you're into politics or not there are just some quotes that stick in your consciousness.

Perhaps nod quietly to yourself if you recognise the following:

"Well may we say 'God save the Queen', because nothing will save the Governor-General!"

"Life wasn't meant to be easy."

"By 1990 no Australian child will live in poverty."

"The accounts do show that Australia is in a recession. The most important thing about that is, is that this is the recession that Australia had to have."

You get the idea. Of course, there have been many PMs since this quartet with some terrific one-liners but these might particularly resonate.

Earlier this week Scott Morrison said this: "And the fact is these crews, yes, they're tired, but they also want to be out there defending their communities. And so we do all we can to rotate the shifts to give them those breaks but ... in many cases you've got to hold them back to make sure they get that rest. And I thank them all for what they're doing, particularly all those who support them."

OK then. It finished stronger than it started, but in an age of soundbites and memes there was one phrase that stood out" " ... they want to be out there".

As it happens ... ahhh, no.

 Chris Nicholls, who has written to the PM about the bushfire situation.

Chris Nicholls, who has written to the PM about the bushfire situation.

Take Chris Nicholls - a firefighter on the fire-ravaged NSW south coast. He took the initiative and wrote to the PM. He didn't mince his words.

Mr Nicholls spoke of brigade mates heading north to fight an "unprecedented enemy of catastrophic proportions" and he pondered their fate - if they'd ever come home.

He wrote: "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,"

That doesn't exactly sound like some "wanting" to be in the middle of a catastrophic, potentially life-threatening situation.

Further down the south coast, Eden RFS Deputy Captain Peter Standen, who described his crew to be "highly motivated", declared fire-fighting to be a "whole of town effort".

"The teams did really well. We weren't only dealing with fire we were also dealing firsthand with the anxiety and fear some property owners had."

With a team of just 11 at his disposal, the Eden deputy is grateful for any support.

"Employers around the town have been very supportive allowing their workers to leave to whenever there's been a call out. The community as a whole has been very supportive of the brigade with donations and any equipment we might need."

Again, I'm wondering if these are the words of someone who desperately "wants" to be there.

Donna Anthony says the government needs to better resource firefighters. Photo: Carla Mascarenhas

Donna Anthony says the government needs to better resource firefighters. Photo: Carla Mascarenhas

Wauchope Rural Fire Service captain Donna Anthony on the NSW Mid-North Coast opted for the old answer-a-question-with-a-question technique when asked about the PM's words.

"I wouldn't say that we want to be out there ... but if we are not out there who else is going to do it?"

More "appliances, vehicles and the equipment" would be handy, she said, as would tax breaks for firies in times of crisis. And given one fire in her area has been burning for more than 150 days, you can't doubt Ms Anthony's commitment.

Rollands Plains fire captain Rod Innes. Photo: Carla Mascarenhas

Rollands Plains fire captain Rod Innes. Photo: Carla Mascarenhas

Another brigade captain, Rod Innes, wants the government needed to do more to address bureaucracy around hazard reduction burns. That way, he reckons, we wouldn't be in this situation.

But this is where we find ourselves. And in the New England area, the situation is quite terrifying.

"We haven't got enough resources for the fires we've got," RFS Superintendent Michael Brooks said.

Aerial firefighting efforts will get another $11 million boost from Mr Morrison's government - on top of the $15 million already provided.

Great, but remember we're just a tick over 300 hours into summer

Janine Graham, ACM digital news editor

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