Graham E. McLoughlin
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY AUSTRALIA?
I well remember, as a boy, the floods of fifty-eight
The papers were all full of news of mate assisting mate.
Of heroes in tiny boats, rowing in unbidden
To rescue people stranded high… Today it is forbidden
Today the rescue is up to only those who’ve been appointed
By someone in a Brisbane office, the government’s anointed.
“They’ve had the training, clearance, gear”, quotes some government dunce.
But such a crew are sometimes few… and can’t be everywhere at once.
In my day we all pitched right in and everyone was a member
Of disaster teams, bushfire crews and other things I remember,
We didn’t wait until someone said, in case someone might sue
We were ALL the SES in the Australia that I knew
In sixty three when fires broke out, the year was dry and hot.
Fires started all round our place; they could have burnt the lot.
One fire truck parked fifteen miles away would not have helped at all,
The neighbours, Dad and even me would see these fires stall.
If that had happened yesterday, our farm would be long gone.
Alarm calls, response teams, crowd-management, the list today goes on.
It may have not been ‘coordinated’ but we got the whole job done.
Then we all went home and had a feed, Mum cooked for everyone.
And later on that February, the fires struck all our neighbours
And we, just like they’d done for us, provided them our labours
Again no one had told us to. We just saw the smoke and went
No fire controller, brigade head or police presence were sent.
No public service apathy invaded the Red Cross centre
Set up in old Jack’s shearing shed… Anyone could enter.
A cup of tea, tomato sandwich, a lamington or two
These were what the ‘workers’ ate in the Australia that I knew
But now you must obey the rules of the disaster control centre.
Evacuate, don’t get in the way, keep out and do not enter
“We have your situation in hand” “We’ll tell you when we’re through”
You were never treated like a fool in the Australia that I knew.
I think we’ve finally lost control of where our country’s going
We’re all in boats on time’s great flood and no bugger here is rowing
There’s some that would but unfortunately the system has some flaws
The disaster management group has just found out… they forgot to order oars
Disaster has, in times gone by, brought Aussies all together,
to fight great fires, and deal with floods, in every sort of weather.
We’ve done all this for strangers, mates… the benefits have been few
We’ve done it because that’s the way it was… in the Australia that I knew.
©Copyright April 2011 by Graham E. McLoughlin