On the evening news of the day the Cyclone Larry struck, this hideously common and carping woman said, "Effing do something now. That is my message for them. Get off their fat arses and do something," said Innisfail local Shiralee Hazel, standing in a relief queue last week.
She had clearly absorbed the content of the coverage of Cyclone Katrina in the United States.
I shan't go on as Miranda Devine said it much more eloquently than I can.
This is no New Orleans, so stop with the whingeing
I'M sorry, but if you live in a place prone to cyclones every 80 years and a cyclone comes along after 80 years, what's the surprise?
We in Sydney are very sorry for the people in northern Queensland who have lost their homes to Cyclone Larry. But, much as we will miss their avocados and bananas on our supermarket shelves, we can live without their whingeing.
No one was killed, a few people sustained minor injuries. This is hardly Hurricane Katrina. But watching the news last week, it was clear a lot of people with little imagination were trying to recreate New Orleans in Innisfail.
Five minutes after the cyclone hit, locals were whingeing that "they" haven't come and fixed it for them. Do they not have their own arms and legs?
"Effing do something now. That is my message for them. Get off their fat arses and do something," said Innisfail local Shiralee Hazel, standing in a relief queue last week.
Australians, especially outside the big cities, used to pride themselves on their self-reliance and resilience, forged in a hard, unforgiving land. Now, according to images beamed back to Sydney, they have become helpless victims. A category five cyclone comes to town and it's all the fault of Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and Prime Minister John Howard.
No doubt there are plenty of admirable people quietly getting on with rebuilding their communities, but we didn't hear from them. Instead we heard people complaining that State Emergency Service volunteers (who have been working round the clock) were only handing out tarpaulins, not staying to spread them out. God forbid that people might have to do some work themselves.
When Howard first turned up in Innisfail two days after the cyclone, he was jeered and booed. "Come and join the line, Johnny," shouted someone queuing for emergency payments.
The mood changed once he put his hand in our pockets and announced a multimillion-dollar relief package.
"You're too damn late", the Gold Coast Bulletin's headline read, summarising the supposed "anger and frustration" of the community. "Politicians flood North Queensland for photo opportunities as thousands of tonnes of aid sits stranded beside a highway they failed to fix."
Bob Katter, Queensland independent MP, whinged: "People stood in the rain waiting for two days. They had nothing to eat and no cash. It's just wrong . . . There is simply no excuse for that."
Premier Beattie finally caved into his own frustration on Sky News: "When you get a category five cyclone which belts the hell out of the community, you're not going to restore [services] in 30 seconds."
The fact is that authorities gave plenty of notice of the cyclone and evacuated 1000 people from vulnerable coastal areas on Sunday, the day before Larry hit, presumably saving lives. The emergency services could not have been better prepared, having gone through a week-long cyclone training exercise in Cairns in January.
General Peter Cosgrove, who is co-ordinating the reconstruction effort, said drily the only thing that might have been done better was if we had "moved Australia about 200 miles west and avoided the damn cyclone".
The endless whingeing is a reflection on an affluent consumer culture in which people have come to expect that everything they want can be delivered in 30 seconds piping hot and preferably free if they only scream loud enough. No inconvenience is tolerable, not even for an instant, and the consumer is always right. The consumer has become a tyrant.