Bravo Anna Bligh

Bravo to everyone who are digging deep to help, and a nation is reborn out of the floods.

Times of tragedy are known to bring either the best or worst, or both, out in people, and the summer 10/11 Queensland floods are clearly bringing out the best.

I feel suffused with pride when I watch the TV reports of how the famed 'Aussie spirit', usually hijacked by sports people or teams, is coming to the fore as ordinary people are helping friends, families and strangers in this time of tragedy, which is Katrina-esque in the scale of the environmental destruction if not in human cost.

The stories of people in Grantham who just managed to climb onto their roof when their homes broke away and started to float away who coould only watch and listen as other houses floated past with occupants, still stuck inside, unable to get onto the roof, screaming for help.

The 3 metre flood surge, 2 kms wide, that suddenly appeared and changed landscapes immediately, sweeping all before it, destroying the structure of but not the soul of communities.

A moment of greatness

A star is born. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's red-rimmed eyes as she fronts yet another press conference tell the story of a woman who is 'holding' her state in the way a mother 'holds' her children when confronted by disaster, and is writing her way into Australian history as a hero. See Emotional Bligh's rallying call to Queenslanders video, Jan 13.

Honour and gratitude must go to the inumerable volunteers who are risking their lives to help others, the neighbours assisting thoese less able like the elderly to do what they can, the sports stars like English cricketer Kevin Peterson, (booed throughout the recent cricket series in the way Aussies will boo someone out of respect for their ability) and Socceroo Tim Cahill who are setting up their own individual fund raising activities, all taking it upon themselves to help out as they can. And of course there are many others also 'putting their shoulders to the wheel'.

The rawness of the emotion of the police officers, the various local spokespeople reporting on their communities, speaks of courage, of hearts broken and of a never-say-die attitude, and a love and appreciation of their society that mostly lies dormant and unexercised in our national psyche. I find myself being touched again and again by how much people care, a quality that seems missing mostly from Australian life, or at least from the media's representation of it.

So while this is indeed a time of great tragedy, it may also signal the rebirth of a nation where petty differences and politics take a back seat as emergency efforts take absolute priority.

This catastrophe contrasts vividly with the US response under Bush to Hurricane Katrina as support nationwide floods in as the waters rise.

Tony Abbott the exception

In some of us, however, it is bringing out the worst, such as Tony Abbott who cannot raise himself above petty squabbling, and may be destoying his credibility mentioning politics at this time and how he has to make sure the Govt is doing its job, sniping from the sidelines when everyone is clearly doing all they can to help. Bad job Tony, may your attitude to this come back to bite you, very hard.

Re-forging our national identity

When the floods recede and the clean-up begins, we will count the cost. The lives lost, the buildings destroyed, the roads and railways broken, the soil and livestock all washed away, the toxic sludge from dozens of coal mines washed into the local environment along with sewerage washed into the waterways. Until then, we can only sit and watch in awe as our national identity is re-forged in these dark times.

Jan 12, 2010

Related to - Current affairs

By Mark O'Brien

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