IT HAS taken a while, but it has finally happened.
The international community has started to show a bit of sympathy for Australians whose lives are being devastated by the flooding.
It made the bulletins from the start, but initially came after news that Katie Price may or may not end her marriage.
Now, thanks to footage which shows cars, cattle and boats swept along towns-turned-rivers as people seeking sanctuary on a roof, a little more attention is focused on the natural disaster.
It has, so far, claimed the loss of 22 lives, left around 100 missing and tens of thousands homeless.
It was early last week I asked aloud why there had been no fund set up to make a donation.
“It’s a First World country” was the response.
Does being a First World country make the suffering and the loss of lives any less worthy of help?
The death toll may not be on a par with Haiti, but Simon Cowell hasn’t yet been moved to gather together a host of singers for a charity single.
It’s been a year since the Haiti earthquake saw 250,000 people killed in a natural disaster which truly tore the country apart.
Aid donations vary depending on the source, but a figure as high as $2.5 billion is said to have been given.
Last July in Pakistan around 20million people were affected by monsoon rains which left a death toll of 2,000. The Disasters Emergency Committee launched an appeal and the generosity of people around the world, myself included, helped raise £68m.
One fifth of Pakistan was affected and it will take time to recover, but the appeals and television adverts hit the screens within days.
But let’s not pretend that people don’t rally round First World countries when disaster hits.
In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina tore apart New Orleans, $854 million in aid was offered by foreign countries.
It’s taken time for the state to recover. Just how long was, bizarrely, revealed to me while watching an episode of Top Gear in 2007.
“How can the rest of America sleep at night knowing that this is here?” remarked presenter Jeremy Clarkson as he toured the still devastated city. He had assumed that after 12 months the wealthiest nation on earth would have started to fix it.
The centre was, by then, magnificent; people’s homes were the mess they had been left in two years prior.
So far, there hasn’t been a major international appeal to help the victims of the Australian flooding.
David Cameron’s words were telling, or rather a Downing Street spokesman’s words were telling. The quote says: “The Prime Minister offered his deep sympathy on behalf of the British people for those who have died, those who have lost their homes and all those who have been affected by the floods in Queensland.
“He said the UK was ready to offer assistance if that should prove necessary.”
All true, but it’s as necessary here as it was in Haiti, Pakistan, New Orleans, Thailand, Bali, Sheffield and Hull when they were hit by a natural disaster. It’s as necessary in Australia as it is in Brazil, where more than 300 people died on Friday after heavy rains triggered mudslides which swamped Brazilian mountain towns.
They all involve human beings coping with devastating circumstances.
Sadly, our brass seems to be staying firmly in our pockets.
Not mine and if you would like to make a donation, the best place I’ve found is the Queensland government – http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/
donate.html – I just hope they’re better than our government at dealing with money.