The worst bushfires in Australias history, which have possibly claimed 300 lives, brought out the very best and worst of human nature.
During the first week it was announced that not only were the fires ignited by lightning and spontaneous combustion during ambient temperatures exceeding 45 degrees C, but that some were deliberately lit.
The public response to the unfolding tragedy was instantaneous, supremely generous and without parallel.
Thousands of tons of relief supplies were donated and delivered to the survivors who had lost every possession they ever owned, and whose place of residence was now a donated tent on a sports field.
The Red Cross donation fund grew to an unprecedented $A100 million. An extraordinary achievement in a country of only 20 million souls.
Any caring and compassionate Australian could only have watched the last 2 weeks events with tears in the eyes. Not only with sadness, but pride in the generosity of donors (flood victims in northern Australia donated their benefits to the fire victims), and the devotion of a host of volunteers; firemen, doctors, nurses, priests, animal carers…..the list is almost endless.
The Bucket does not always strive to present balanced argument and opinion, but occasionally it makes a token attempt. This is one such occasion. Some lawyers volunteered their services. Full marks guys.
Unfortunately we also witnessed the ugliness of human character.
The occasional looter, and arsonist lighting new fires.
It also attracted a new wave of opportunists out of their plush city offices.
1. Real Estate agents hell bent on buying up cheap charred land while the owners were still shell-shocked.
2. Lawyers with a profit motive.
They have suddenly found a new "cause" for the fires and are launching litigation proceedings.
Electricity supply companies are the most easy and lucrative target, given that arsonists, if caught, will probably not possess much money to extract, and God, having sent the 46 degrees and the lightning, is, for the moment "whereabouts unknown".
It unfortunately has a "precedent", which is legalese for "we got away with it once before".
Following the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, the State Electricity Commission had to pay out more than $300 million in compensation for fires started by arcing power lines.
As this money would eventually have been repaid to the SEC by electricity or insurance consumers in the form of higher charges and tariffs, it was effectively legal action against ordinary people.
If I was at all cynically inclined I might suggest that the ones most likely to benefit from court proceedings will be the ……..
Sorry, can't find the right word.
Maybe all you wonderful cynics out there can think of an appropriate occupation?