Wise men say only fools rush in… so sung the good residents of Kangaroo Island this afternoon at an impromptu community concert to raise funds for the KI Wildlife Network, a local charity that needs your help now more than ever.
It was a deeply ironic moment, because a local fool – the Mayor of Kangaroo Island – had only days earlier urged tourists to ‘rush in’, even as the island burned, and even as emergency services asked tourists to stay away.
It gets better. Michael Pengilly – a former Liberal Party state politician in South Australia – had made even more headlines this morning after tweeting at Barack Obama overnight to express his disappointment that the former US president had linked the Australian bushfire tragedy to climate change.
In true Liberal Party tradition, Pengilly believes climate change is a load of crap. He’s a loud and proud climate denier, and on Boxing Day – as the KI fires raged out of control – was trolling a young woman on Twitter (the Guardian’s political reporter, Amy Remeikis), and wallowing in his own stupidity.
Pengilly’s denial of science, as you might expect, came up at this afternoon’s community concert, a much-scaled back version of the annual Kangaroo Island Wildlife Carnival, which raises funds to support a region that is known as the ‘world’s largest open plain zoo’.
The festival had been cancelled, for obvious reasons, but determined residents met at Reeves Point near the small town of Kingscote this afternoon to raise funds regardless.
Opening the impromptu concert was Estuary – singer-songwriters Nancy Bates and Aimee Volkofsky – who had been scheduled to play with legendary Aboriginal performer Archie Roach at the Carnival.
Ferry services to the island had been suspended for several days, but Bates and Volkofsky (close friends of this writer), plus several other artists including Jimmybay, managed to make it over. For their final song, Estuary led a community sing-along of Elvis Presley’s ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’.
Bates had earlier been joking about her ‘apparent lesbian appearance’ (“I know you were all looking at my haircut and wondering,” she said), which led to Bates coining a new campaign slogan for the local community – Bring Back The Bush!
Over to Estuary…
Two of the local performers at the concert have lost everything in the fire… and then turned up to help raise money to assist local wildlife.
Kangaroo Island remains on fire tonight, and already a third of the island has been wiped out, with the loss of two lives – renowned outback pilot Dick Lang, 78, and his son, Adelaide surgeon Clayton Lang, 43. Their bodies were found on the Playford Highway outside Parndana on January.
On Thursday, Scott Morrison visited the island and, true to his current form, managed to remark that “thankfully we’ve had no loss of life”.
“Two. We’ve lost two,” a local responded.
“Two. Yes two, that’s quite right. I was thinking about firefighters firstly,” Morrison replied.
The father and son, of course, were killed while returning from fighting the fires.
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