As the blazes in Victoria continue, the analysis has started to kick in, with our bushfire policy coming under some heat from around the world. We take a look at what the press is saying.


Not a great deal has changed on the online front since yesterday. On Twitter, 774Melbourne continues to be the most up-to-date source of news, alongside the official CFA_news and unofficial CFA updates  feeds, while a CFA volunteer tweeting from the frontlines has become a star reporter, providing some brief insights and photos.

Google have improved their excellent  mash-up map, which tracks CFA updates on the fires in real-time, to reflect the size of each fire documented.

Coverage from around the world:

Looking for answers in the ashes. When flame height rises above a metre or two on a fire front, firefighters retreat. This policy is correct. A lumbering truck in a forest is a death trap. So why were residents not told to abandon their homes? Why were they told it was safer to stay indoors until the fire front had passed? That’s good advice for an ordinary fire day, but not on a day with near gale-force winds. — Frank Campbell, The Age

Setting bush ablaze the act of a terrorist. The tragic toll from Victoria’s horrific weekend bushfires is already greater than that of Australian deaths in the two Bali bombing attacks of 2002 and 2005 yet we know less about the home-grown terrorists responsible than we do about the Balinese bombers. It’s time Australians turned their attention to arson and how arsonists are treated, and whether, on this continent, an act of arson should be considered in the same light as an act of terrorism or at the very least, attempted murder. — Piers Akerman, Daily Telegraph

Australia counts the cost of fires. The economic cost to Australian agriculture and to insurance companies is still rising as the fires continue to burn. Early estimates from the Australian Financial Review , a financial daily, show that insurance losses are likely to hit 500.0 million Australian dollars ($341.8 million) once officials get a final tally for the total number of lost lives, buildings and livestock, along with crops and infrastructure. — Parmy Olson, Forbes

Australia’s wildfires: climate change or crime? Truly, the so-called “wildfires” one reads about in Australia, have more to do with soft laws. Our left-wing “justice system” releases fire bugs, while hysterical greens claim that “global warming’s wildfires” kill people. — Ben-Peter Terpstra, American Thinker

Black Saturday: why did so many die in Australian bushfires? One of the most bewildering aspects of Black Saturday was the disconnection between the general and, ultimately, prophetic warnings issued by authorities beforehand and the absence of specific information when the fires overwhelmed communities. — George Megalogenis and Milanda Rout, The Times

Time for a new Australian bushfire policy? The rationale behind the policy is that if you have a fire plan in place — that is, you have a water source, a pump that is not dependent on the power supply, you have ember-proofed your house, and so on — it is safer to stay and let the front pass over, than to leave at the last moment. And historically, it is true that most houses lost in bush fires have burnt because of defendable ember-strikes rather than direct contact with the fire, and most deaths have been due last-minute evacuations. But conditions have changed. — Rachel Nowak, New Scientist

The “continent of smoke” is still burning . Science has started to understand — but society and the government certainly hasn’t. I shuddered when I heard one of the burnt-out residents proclaiming on the BBC World Service that they’d certainly rebuild their home — the geography is clearly unsuitable. But of course we have an individualised, capitalist system of land ownership. That person is tied by that to one small block of land. — Natalie Bennett, Guardian

News photo galleries:

Boston Globe


The Australian


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