Jingle jingle, spin, spin, ad man.

As the bushfire crisis became even more grave, the PM’s office released his promises of ships and troops to music. Yes, a jingle

Scott Morrison
The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, discusses the government’s response to the bushfire crisis at Parliament House. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

These days have shown us once again who we are: so patient, so obedient. We do what we’re told. The order goes out to empty the district and the district hits the road. Of course there are holdouts. Tempers flare. How many times have we heard that beep on the radio that hides a heartfelt “Fuck!”

We wait in the smoke for hours for a place on the boat, for a sandwich, to get past the next roadblock. Queues for Woolworths and Caltex are so orderly. We don’t need to be told, as the prime minister told us again today: “Stay patient.” We do.

Disappointment came early with the sight of David Elliott, the widely disliked New South Wales emergency services minister, back from his European holidays and back on the job. For a time at his premier’s press conference all that could be seen of him was an unhappy face over a gut hanging out of his trousers. Then he had his moment: “I came to step up not step down.”

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When Gladys Berejiklian looks pained, you feel it in your guts. That she can’t sack this man tells us a lot about the state of NSW politics. Elliott is a boss of the far-right faction of the Liberal party, the men and women who stand for Christ, coal and the cops. Were she to touch Elliott, they could bring her down.

It was a morning of warnings. Fire chiefs repeated news of wind and fires and windows for escape about to close down. Big towns were urged to empty. Ovals up and down the coast filled with cars, people and pets.

This isn’t only a bush story. These fires are burning in the holidays. Resorts and beaches under attack have been full of city folk. Facing fire fronts for the first time and scrambling for their lives up the highway will give their views on climate change a particular edge.

Back home their relatives are on the phones. “Are they all right?” is the most asked question of the week. We swap the stories of our family and friends with fear, pride and relief. The footprint of these fires is, more or less, Australia.

As the south-east held its breath, Kangaroo Island blazed. Two more deaths were added to the toll. We were still waiting for the day to unfold as a transformed Scott Morrison faced the press in the courtyard of Parliament House.

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At last he had something to say. For the first time in weeks, he looked like a prime minister taking charge and promising an “all-out response” to a catastrophe he’s now acknowledging is a very big deal indeed.

Why has it taken him so long? Tough journalists put that question to him again and again. He refused to say. He’s baffling. How much pain he might have saved himself by promising what he promised today a month ago. Would he have been mocked as he was in the ruins of Cobargo, mockery reported around the world? Probably not.

He’s still putting it down to weariness and raw emotions. That’s not what Cobargo people are saying. They thought the efforts of governments to protect them were appalling. They told him so.

Out of the blue, a forgotten figure was mentioned at the podium: the governor general of Australia, David Hurley. He’s been doing some necessary constitutional formalities, signing documents to send the military to the front.

But whatever happened to the convention that the GG represents the nation at times like these? Maybe Hurley is about. Haven’t seen him anywhere. The politicians are grabbing all the attention of the cameras.

Bad as conditions were early in the day, it seemed we had dodged the worst of the predictions. But by the time Morrison finished speaking in the early afternoon, high winds were blasting the south-east coast. It was on again.

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Midnight returned to Mallacoota. Highways closed. Trains stopped. The fire jumped the Shoalhaven River. Records fell. A note to the elderly: the new Canberra record high temperature of 44C is a tad over 111 on the old scale. How often, if ever, did we experience that when we were kids?Advertisement

Warnings became suddenly more urgent and more sombre. At many points in the hinterland the news could not be worse: “It is now too late to leave. You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive.”

We are in for a terrible night.

As the situation became particularly grave, the prime minister’s office released his promises of ships and troops set to music. Yes, a jingle. This man is inexplicable. You can’t take the marketing out of Scotty …

Please help bees and beekeepers effected by drought and fire.

In bushfires and drought effected areas some bees maybe desperate for water and nutrients.

Please put water out for bees.

Please do not open feed honey or sugar to bees.

Outside feeding of sugar and honey can encourage bees to rob and can lead to disease. Feeding honey outside to bees and animals is illegal in Australia because it is a Biosecurity risk.

Please help bees and beekeepers effected by drought and fire.

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