Disaster for Darwin vs Australia on Fire – a Politico-Legal Review of Governments in Action

Scutt, Jocelynne (2023) Disaster for Darwin vs Australia on Fire – a Politico-Legal Review of Governments in Action. Law, Technology and Humans, 5 (1). pp. 192-208. ISSN 2652-4074

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For two days in December 1974, from 24 to 26 December, Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, killing 71 people, seriously injuring 145, impacting 500 with minor injuries, damaging buildings, tearing roofs from houses, sweeping up trees and rubbish bins, tearing up children’s playground equipment, bending in half the anemometer needle in Darwin Airport control tower. The festive season ended with a damage bill topping $800m. From June 2019, through to March/April 2020, bushfires ravaged Australia, burning 10m hectares, ending lives and destroying livelihoods, killing or injuring some three billion animals, with kangaroos leaping to avoid the inferno, whilst koalas whimpered as the oncoming flames speed toward them, filling the Australian bush with the agonised cries of animals in danger, distress, dying and death. Some 3500 homes were burnt out, almost 6000 outbuildings demolished, 34 people killed, more injured, and the cost in money terms was estimated at over $103b. During Black Summer, the land expanse devastated was as if, experienced in England, the entire country was burning from Dover to the Scots’ border. These disasters found both Prime Ministers absent overseas at crucial times. Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister during the cyclone disaster, returned from Greece immediately. Scott Morrison, Prime Minister during the fires left in the midst of the conflagration. Whitlam set up a Darwin Reconstruction Commission. No Bushfire Reconstruction Commission was established by Morrison. Two different responses from government. This paper explores the disasters and the differences, politico-legal dimensions of the way governments can respond or fail, and the process of recovery. Key words: Cyclone Tracy, Australian bushfires, climate change, global warming, Gough Whitlam, Scot Morrison, disaster management, Darwin Reconstruction Commission, Royal Commission into Bushfires, 2019 ‘Black Summer’

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cyclone Tracy ; Australian bushfires ; climate change ; global warming ; Gough Whitlam ; Scot Morrison ; disaster management ; Darwin Reconstruction Commission ; Royal Commission into Bushfires ; 2019 ‘Black Summer’.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: School of Law
Depositing User: Jocelynne Scutt
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2024 15:16
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2024 15:16
URI: http://bear.buckingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/609

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