Economic priorities of the Australian Government:
Ninety five percent of the funding for the New South Wales fire service comes from a levy that is added to home insurance premiums. The resulting rise in premiums has driven many people in that state to drop their cover. Those who have lost their homes in the fires are now left destitute. The situation will only get worse: the insurance companies have already declared that whole areas of rural Australia are now uninsurable.
According to the IMF, annual energy subsidies in Australia (including indirect subsidies such as the added cost of healthcare associated with pollution from burning fossil fuels) amount to $42 billion, or 2.3 percent of GDP. On a per capita basis, that’s $1,750 for every man, woman and child in the country.
While they are first in line for government handouts, the fossil fuel companies make themselves scarce when the taxman calls. In the past five years, five of the biggest coal miners have paid not one cent in tax, while the biggest, Glencore, paid only six percent tax on its declared taxable income (which was a fraction of its overall income).
After initially trying to reassure people that volunteer firefighters were happy to put themselves in danger and work for nothing for weeks on end, Morrison was forced to backflip and is now offering to fund compensation for volunteers. But the offer is a joke. No money until volunteers have worked, without pay, for more than 10 days. No money for time spent fighting fires when volunteers would not normally be at work. So, someone working a 9am to 5pm working day could be out fighting fires from 4pm to midnight and be entitled to only an hour’s compensation. No money for volunteers who are retired from work. This is just spitting in the face of those who put their lives on the line to defend homes and communities. [order changed]