It has been noticeable that, after the first day, news of this disaster has been relegated to the middle pages of the newspaper and the third or fourth item on radio bulletins.
I felt embarrassed at Australia's initial aid contribution - $500,000! This has since been increased to the magnificent sum of I think a bit over $5M. (I stand to be corrected on this.) Whatever, compared with many other countries it is pretty pathetic.
Until last night I had heard absolutely nothing and read nothing about any Appeal for Australians to make a contribution to the relief effort. Then late last night comment was made on ABC Radio that donations could be made at any ANZ Bank. Today I went into my local branch of the ANZ and looked around for a donation point/box. Nothing. Asked the staff member at the reception desk. Blank looks. Asked another staff member . She ferreted around on the computer and eventually came up with the information that I could have my account debited and the amount would go to World Vision. On my way out I asked three other staff if they had been told anything about. No one knew anything.
No shopping centres, Post offices, or any of the city's central points have any reference tothis event whatsoever.
When the tsunami happened, we were awash with appealathons of every description. Even my stockbroker's home page featured an appeal plea which remained there until quite recently. Subsequently, it was reported that far more funds were donated than could reasonably be used for at least the immediate relief effort. I am unaware of any reported accounts of just what these vast amounts of donations were used for.
Does anyone have any theories as to why we seem so unsympathetic towards the Pakistanis in their devastation? Is it because we perceive the Musharef government to be derelict in humanitarian duty on the basis that they have spent megabucks developing nuclear arsenals, possibly at the expense of caring for their people? Is it because the area is known to be hugely vulnerable to earthquakes and therefore we are unsympathetic because we think they should have been prepared for an event as catastrophic as this?
I don't know what the reasons are. But I do feel less than proud to be a Kiwi/Australian where in the light of this immense human suffering our headlines continue day after day to be about the choices or non-choices which may or may not occur under the Howard government's proposed industrial relations reforms. I don't think too many Pakistanis, bereaved, homeless, and starving, would be quibbling too much about having to work on some public holidays.