It’s been a terrible week for the Capital region as fires raged across the South East on an unprecedented scale. The crisis has been building for months, as have calls for weary volunteers to be relieved by defence forces.
We asked you last week whether the ADF should expand its role to frontline firefighting.
Some vehemently disagreed with the question: Kylie Whittington said “The ADF already put their lives on the line, doing the jobs they are trained for. They are not trained to fight fires, especially fires of this magnitude and ferocity. ADF personnel don’t have the training or equipment to be on the front line in this crisis”, and Phil Kristofferson commented, “Can we now close this ridiculous poll that is giving voice to the ill-informed and uneducated?”
Many others strongly agreed that the scale of the disaster was such that ADF involvement was an obvious step.
Anne Maegaard Willenborg said: “Absolutely. This country depends way too much on people volunteering to provide services that the government should provide but won’t because people want tax cuts and governments want surpluses. How warped is this?”.
And from Sandra Jalkanen, “In this sort of emergency, where resources are getting thin, and our RFS are getting weary, the backend support from the ADF is crucial. The ADF is uniquely positioned to provide food, shelter, fatigue management, reconnaissance, aerial support, etc etc. The ADF has the training and resources tackle a large mass of people spread over vast distances”.
1413 people voted in the poll. Your options were No, their skills are best used to provide vital logistical support This received 31 per cent of the total or 439 votes
The alternative was Yes, this is a major natural disaster. We need every available resource. That option was the clear winner with 69 per cent, or 974 Votes
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deployment of 3000 Army Reserve troops on the frontline to augment the logistics support role being played by the ADF.
Alongside the fire crisis and its impact on friends, neighbours and families across our region, one of the biggest stories galvanising Region Media readers has been the decisions made by Summernats organisers to go ahead with their event and in particular the burnout competition.
The burnouts were held on the hottest day in Canberra since record-keeping began during an ACT wide State of Alert and total fire ban. Chief Minister Andrew Barr had appealed to organisers to cancel the competition at the very least, but Summernats responded by saying they were “very happy” with their safety measures and that fans expected to see the burnouts taking place.
On the preceding Friday, NSW and ACT police attempting to control illegal burnouts at Sutton near the Eagle Hawk resort were forced to retreat across the Federal highway flyover after being abused, then pelted with bottles and rocks by members of a 2000 strong crowd.
One NSW officer was injured, and two police cars were damaged in the incident. Summernats CEO Andy Lopez says there is no evidence of any kind to suggest that cars involved were Summernats entrants although a number of people shown in social media vision of the incident were wearing Summernats wristbands.
Mr Lopez has sharply criticised anyone involved and says that their actions put the event at risk, tarring many otherwise responsible participants in an economically valuable community event. Police continue to investigate the incident and have asked for any dashcam footage or information from the public that can help identify perpetrators.
Region Media’s Tim Gavel has asked today regarding the Summernats decision “at what point does social responsibility kick in when the action is set against the broader context of bushfires raging?
“For mine, it was a terrible image, akin to the Sydney Fireworks on New Year’s Eve”.
So, should the Chief Minister and emergency controllers have taken the next step and cancelled permission for the burnouts competition to take place? At what point does regulation step in – or should all such decisions rely on an individual organisation’s commonsense and social responsibility?
Should authorities have exercised their powers to cancel the Summernats burnout competition?
- No, organisers acted responsibly within the law (71%, 4,178 Votes)
- Yes, this event has lost its social license (29%, 1,729 Votes)
Total Voters: 5,907