Culture

Everyone Is Dragging Scott Morrison For Offering “Thoughts And Prayers” To Bushfire Victims

"Bugger the thoughts and prayers, Scott. They don't work."

NSW bushfires Scott Morrison

On November 9 twitter user @AussieAce_ tweeted, asking when Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be sending thoughts and prayers to the victims of the recent bushfires. It might have remained as a snarky and somewhat cynical commentary on the inaction of politicians in the face of a previous crises, if ScoMo had not ACTUALLY sent this tweet only four hours later.

Predictably, people were not impressed.

Greens MP Adam Bandt also responded, igniting a war with liberal politicians who spent the day dodging questions linking climate change to the unprecedented bushfires. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack even went so far as to call people with these concerns “raving inner-city lunatics” in an ABC Radio interview.

In days long past, ‘thoughts and prayers’ were offered as a sincere expression of sympathy and a request for some kind of holy intervention on that person’s behalf. But as many Twitter users astutely observed, more recently it has been transformed into a token statement that seems to get wheeled out during times of tragedy in lieu of any meaningful action.

As of this morning there were 64 fires burning across New South Wales with a further 51 in Queensland, and conditions are only set to worsen.

A state of emergency has been declared for both states, with more than 150 homes already destroyed and three people losing their lives.

Of course, in times like this prayer can be comforting for some — but it’s ultimately meaningless unless offered in conjunction with actual policy changes.

That’s what the Emergency Leaders For Climate Action has been asking for since April, when they released a joint statement signed by 23 former senior fire and emergency service leaders. The letter warned of the increased danger facing emergency staff due to climate change and requested a meeting with Mr Morrison to discuss the issue.

One of the signatories was retired Commissioner for Fire & Rescue NSW Greg Mullins, who sent a follow up letter in September warning that Australia was “entering uncharted territory with worsening extreme weather”.

“My fellow emergency services leaders and I are deeply concerned that we are not adequately prepared, and that our brave emergency services personnel and communities are in increasingly grave danger,” he wrote.

The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action also called for a parliamentary inquiry into whether emergency services are adequately equipped, and for state governments to cease cutting the budgets of forestry, national parks, urban and rural fire services.

It’s measures like this that are a lot more effective than thoughts and prayers, and as the most powerful person in Australian politics, Scott Morrison has them at his disposal.