An Open Letter to Canberra Decision Makers from ACM Western New South Wales Editors | Canberra time

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As the mid-west grapples with the enormity of this week’s flooding, newspaper editors across the region are asking what our leaders, our lawmakers, are planning to do to protect disaster-weary Australians who live in the bush.

An open letter to decision makers in Canberra

Although the scale of the ongoing flood disaster will take some time to become clear, its impact on lives and homes, destruction and displacement is already heartbreaking.

As was the case during the drought, the pandemic and the calamities that preceded them, our communities continue to stick together and support each other.

We are, of course, grateful for the helping hand and the kindness with which it is offered.

Beyond the physical and structural toll that a disaster of such magnitude can impose on a community, the mental well-being and well-being of everyone involved must be considered.

The short span of time between the devastating drought and the floods has revealed inescapable truths about our unpreparedness to deal with these extremes of weather, extremes that are expected to become more frequent.

All of these problems are directly linked to the climatic events that we have suffered in just over two and a half years, none compared to the disaster of last week.

Drought, floods, bushfires all point to the need for more careful planning for the extremes of our climate. This lesson was learned following the Black Summer bushfires, reiterated after the Lismore flood and again here this week.

How we manage water – in times of scarcity, extreme abundance, and every moment in between – also needs to come under scrutiny. The same goes for how we protect communities and infrastructure. Without Bathurst’s flood mitigation dykes, this already traumatic week could have been much worse.

The federal government was elected on a platform that made tackling climate change a priority. Naturally, his focus has been on energy policy and carbon dependency. What we have seen here in Mid-West and Western New South Wales makes it clear to us that this focus must broaden to include practical solutions to ensure the sustainability and quality of life of our cities and towns.

Nick McGrath, editor, Central Western Daily; Jacinta Carroll, Managing Editor, Western Advocate; Lynn Rayner, editor, Daily Liberal; Andrew Fisher, Regional Editor Western NSW non-dailies (including the Cowra Guardian, Forbes Advocate and Parkes Champion-Post)

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