That’s Leadership

“New South Wales state emergency services minister David Elliott said residents were facing what “could be the most dangerous bush fire week this nation has ever seen,” says NBC News.

Take a moment if you can to read an article in The Sydney Morning Herald about the “catastrophic” fires sweeping New South Wales, written by Greg Mullins, a former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner. It’s titled This is not normal: what’s different about the NSW mega fires, and it’s frightening.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack had this reaction, according to SBS News:

On Monday, Mr McCormack launched an attack against the “disgraceful, disgusting” behaviour of people who linked climate change to the bushfires in NSW and Queensland.

“We’ve had fires in Australia since time began, and what people need now is sympathy, understanding, help and shelter … They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time,” he told ABC.

And Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he’s too busy to care about the changing climate. From 10 Daily:

“The prime minister refused to address global warming on Saturday, instead saying he was only thinking of the victims, their families and the emergency services personnel fighting the fires.

When asked by a journalist if he accepted that the fires were in “some way linked to climate change”, Morrison answered:

“My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families. The firefighters who are fighting the fires, the response effort that has to be delivered and how the Commonwealth has to responded in supporting those efforts.”

China’s Got Them Rattled

First came the odd story of how Chinese diplomats refuse to leave a property in Papeete, Tahiti’s capital. Now this week comes a report that “‘preliminary discussions’ were held between the Chinese and Vanuatu governments about the establishment of a naval base at a Beijing-funded wharf in Luganville,” and how that is “causing quite a stir in Australia.” The author of this particular report, a Kiwi academic, is skeptical, but it looks like the state of China/Australia relations is topic number one in the region these days, with stories just this month like Big chill between China and Australia and China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say. China has the southern Pacific rattled.

More photos: China, Australia, Vanuatu

This Is for Non-Australians

Following a Norwegian programming idea, the SBS network in Australia recently aired a three-hour program mostly shot out the window on a train, the Ghan, which makes a regular three-day journey between Darwin and Adelaide. Response was sufficient for SBS to schedule a longer, seventeen-hour version of the same.

On the off chance that you are not reading this in Australia, and thus are unable to watch the TV version, here are some photos from the Ghan. And here is a link to my trip report at the time, posted just after we’d finished the 51 hour and ten minute journey.

Our journey began in Darwin, southbound.

The Ghan

Morning coffee in the lounge

Outside Darwin it looks like this.

First excursion stop, the Katherine Gorge

Way out in the middle of the outback

Wise guy at Lice Springs.

Somewhere out there, this happens.

And eventually as Adelaide draws closer, the countryside turns green.

Click ’em to enlarge them, and see photos from across Australia in the Australia Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.