We’ve seen it and we’ve heard all about it. Those of us living far away have no idea of what it must be like to have escaped a firestorm, and lost everything in the process. Some have lost those they loved and that must be tragic. My thoughts are with each and every person who has suffered or fears the suffering, fears the potential loss because they live in a bushfire-prone area.
I’m drawn to wonder though, why satellite towns – locales, call them what you will – like Kinglake and Marysville are constructed such that dwellings and businesses are deliberately established cheek-by-jowl with the forest surrounding them? Surely, it’s lovely to live close to nature, but when nature has the terrible potential to snuff you out, doesn’t commonsense decree that one not have the bush at one’s back door?
Have a look at any number of photos of the fires over the weekend, and doubtless in days to come, and take note of just how close paved roads, kerbing and channeling, and all the services of modern suburbia have been created for those wanting to live in the peace and serenity of the bush. How many local authorities have likely been coerced, brow-beaten or otherwise influenced into approving subdivisions for idyllic settlement by developers looking to develop the mountain forests of Victoria as the perfect compromise of work-life balance?
I love the country life, and I love the bush, but there’s absolutely no way under the Sun that I would buy or build a home where the bush is at the back door. The dangers are far too great. Yet others will and good luck to them. My belief is that those people deserve to be better protected by the local authorities where they choose to live, in demanding of developers greater clearances between suburban development and the virgin bush councils demand be retained. Who is to blame? I’ll point the finger at property developers because past experience assures me of the greed which drives the animal. I point equally at local authorities for not demanding stricter controls of what is developed and how. Those who live in the bush buy a product which is well sold and extolled. To my mind it’s those doing the selling who have much to answer for.