This just really takes the cake

30 01 2009

In order to explain my recent inactivity in amongst headlines regarding the latest world happenings, I offer up the excuse that there has been an extreme heatwave in the Southern States of Australia and so it has put a dampener on any urge to debate and argue seriously.  But I am happy to inform you that this has given me a chance to rant and rave.

Government can’t deal with problems and it matters not whether it’s a catastrophic natural disaster, similar to America’s New Orleans, or whether it’s a heatwave in Adelaide.  Adelaide’s inhabitants have spent the last two days in temperatures that have hovered around the 44 degree market, give or take.  Some places north of the city record temperatures of 48 degrees yesterday.

So it could just be the heat, but something about the following report really pisses me off.

THE State Government says a press release urging people to use alternatives to air conditioning during a 40C-plus heatwave was merely intended to save you money.

Acting Energy Minister Paul Holloway called a media conference this afternoon and told reporters the Government was “merely suggesting to consumers a range of complementary measures to help them save money”.

Citing our community’s environmental responsibilities, the Government today put our a press release saying there were many alternatives to using air conditioners, urging South Australians to instead insulate ceilings, use external blinds or a pergola to shade windows, and use fans.

Doctors said the suggestion that people should use alternatives to air conditioning during a 40C-plus heatwave was “highly dangerous” – and a strong majority of AdelaideNow readers voting in the poll on this page agreed.

Mr Holloway today said air conditioning was most effective if there was good insulation, the curtains were closed to keep direct sunlight out, air flow was directed properly and the system was well maintained.

“Certainly, it is not the Government’s intention that people should not use their air conditioners,” Mr Holloway said.

Thank you Energy Minister Paul Holloway.  I assure you, your edict has been noted, immediately forgotten and I offer up this posts as a metaphorical, one fingered salute.

What amazes me, is whether Mr Holloway imagines that South Australians are going to run out, in the middle of a heat wave and hire someone to properly seal and insulate their roof, upgrade their air conditioning to a more efficient model and so on.  Or perhaps he imagines that South Australian’s are too simple to think of closing the curtains or lowering the blinds to make the air conditioning more efficient.  Maybe he even imagines that these measures might alleviate the need for air conditioning all together!  In that case I would seriously suggest Mr Holloway kindly takes himself out of his air conditioned office, and I guarantee it’s air conditioned, and spend some time in a Northern Suburban housing trust home to see if a fan can provide an ‘effective’ alternative to air conditioning, simply so that he may understand how hot it is even with the curtains closed.

I am from the poor northern areas of Adelaide, the domain of housing trust homes old and new, with some areas populated by immigrants of one community only to have the next one occupied by a completely different community.  These are suburbs with the most affordable housing for the lower income portion of society, particularly single mothers and fathers, young families, the working families too often appealed to by Rudd in his election campaign (to the point that I wanted to vomit), the elderly and so on.  These are the places where the heat gets hotter than in the city and are the places where air conditioning becomes important.  In some cases it is a matter of life and death.  It’s hard enough that these people don’t always have the money for the most effective and efficient air conditioning.  Quite often their systems are barely able to drop the temperature to a less oppressive level, but it is what they can get and it is better than suffering the oppressive 44+ degree heat in full force.  Fact is, the alternatives don’t cool and have limited effect.  Even the air conditioning has limited effect.  It’s so hot that the train tracks have warped and have stopped public transport.  These people need air conditioning and even the limited effects it provides.  The attitude of this government department is typical of any statist in a crisis.  They don’t understand, don’t care and there inflexibility makes our life suck.  It’s just lucky that these are only ‘guidelines,’ though it takes only one or two zealots to turn such ‘guidelines’ into enforceable legislation.

Then there’s other public figures such as Greens MP Mark Parnell, who has said,

“People should not be told not to use air conditioners, especially if their health is going to be put at risk.”

To which I would ask if people would actually give a damn what they are being told to do.  It’s Australia.  It gets fucking hot and these last few days have been extremely fucking hot.  Logically, it follows from instinctive principles of self-preservation that when it is hot, the air conditioning needs to be used to keep oneself and ones family cool, and to ensure a good nights sleep so that you may get up in the morning for work to make sure you are going to eat over the next week.  And before anyone dares point it out, I am aware of the irony of an Australian complaining about the heat — which is why it’s always amusing to see the looks on the faces of backpackers and tourists who seem to be under the impression we’re all used to it.

But to the point.  Such senseless comments from politicians make me wonder why they haven’t been dethroned yet.

However, the following comment was submitted to this editorial.

“Doesn’t matter who you vote for, a politician always gets in.”

Things mights be looking up.

EDIT: It’s good to see that ‘the public’ are at least getting to make use of something that they’re paying for, even while they’re being urged to find alternatives.

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