I reject Prime Minister John Howard's assertion that we should show the same "level of compassion" to Australian victims of drought as to victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami. That terrible tragedy in 2004 killed over 200,000 people, leaving a further 1.7 million people displaced. Whole villages were literally wiped off the map. Many of those affected live in extremely poor areas where their governments lack the capacity to support them or help rebuild their lives. Quite simply, the scale, intensity and relief required are of an entirely different character and order of magnitude.
For John Howard to equate that with a few thousand Australian families facing temporary financial hardship is nationalistic and insular. Of course, these citizens will be looked after by our well-resourced governments. But in our global age, the days when physical proximity, skin colour and accent dictate our levels of compassion are long gone.