As the NSW Central West grapples with the enormity of last week's floods, ACM editors from the region are asking what our leaders plan to do to protect disaster-weary Australians.
They joined forces to pen the below open letter to the decision makers in Canberra.
A little over two and a half years ago, in the midst of a particularly vicious drought, water catchments for the cities of Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo were all but empty, communities mere months away from running out of water. This week the region has been devastated by an extreme abundance of what was only recently so scarce.
Though the sheer scale of the ongoing flood disaster will take some time to become clear, its impact on lives and homes, the destruction and displacement is already heartbreaking.
As was the case through the drought, the pandemic and such calamity that came before them, our communities continue to pull together and support each other.
Ours is a stoic region; we mastered resilience long before it became a buzzword. Now, though, we need our leaders at all levels of government to step up.
The short window of time between devastating drought and flood has revealed inescapable truths about how unprepared we are to deal with these climate extremes, extremes that are predicted to become more prevalent. An increasing population is only going to put more pressure on this infrastructure. It will also raise questions about planning and development.
Drought, floods, bushfires all point to a need for planning to pay greater heed to the extremes of our climate. This lesson was learnt in the aftermath of the Black Summer bushfires, reiterated following the Lismore flood and again here this week.
How we manage water - in times of scarcity, extreme abundance and all times in between - must also come under heavy scrutiny. So must how we protect communities and infrastructure.
The federal government was elected on a platform that made tackling climate change a priority. Understandably, its focus has been on energy policy and carbon reliance.
From what we have seen here, clearly this focus must broaden to include practical solutions to ensure the ongoing sustainability and liveability of our cities and towns.
There is a pressing need for a transparent conversation about what can and should be done now to protect our communities from the ravages of these weather extremes.
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