Stay classy, Atlases
Posted on 08:11, January 13th, 2011 by Lew
VEXNEWS‘ headline, while verbose, really does nail it: GREEDY GERRY: Heartless Harvey fiddles at lavish Gold Coast party while Queensland drowns.
That’s Gerry Harvey, of Harvey Norman; and John Singleton, who (with Harvey) owns a thoroughbred brokerage aptly named ‘Magic Millions’. This photo and others were taken at its launch while much of the rest of the state of Queensland was underwater. From the article, with my emphasis:
Context, however, is everything. There’s a good reference to the fall of Rome in there, but here’s the real bit of background which brings it home:
Well, you would — but in fact, it’s worse than that. Many of those worst affected by flooding actually aren’t insured for it — because insurers expressly exclude flood damage from their policies. Most cover storms (falling water in the local area) but not flooding (rising water, or that which originated elsewhere). The Queensland Department of Primary Industry has a summary:
It makes sense, as an insurer, to decline to offer cover for anything which might actually cost money; and there abides a regulatory environment which permits insurers to do just this. The topic, and related problems resulting from poor government policy, are covered in some detail in a column by La Trobe University disaster researcher Rachel Carter in today’s Australian. Consequently, despite the present floods being declared the most severe disaster in Queensland’s history and with some discussion today that it may be the worst in the history of the Commonwealth, insurers were, a few days ago, saying that the losses to their industry would be modest.
(Sidebar: if you’ve not connected the dots, this is the same insurance industry to which the Key government intends to deliver ACC early in their second term. Don’t say you weren’t warned.)
And so it is as it ever was: even in an affluent, modern first-world democracy with strong disaster-response agencies, which likes to regard itself as an egalitarian nation where the “little guy” gets a fair suck of the sav — when push comes to shove the big guys make out like bandits, and the little guy goes under.
In both cases, literally.