About a month ago, one fireman became a cultural icon for leaning out of his fire truck, looking daggers into a camera and telling the Prime Minister to “get fucked”.
That man’s name was Paul Parker, and the whole country fell in love with him the minute we saw the video.
Since then, there were whispers that Paul’s volunteer RFS gig was on the line for his explicit language and (justified) on-camera outburst. There was even a Change.org petition to save his position and everything.
Well, apparently, those whispers are actually true because Paul is out of his RFS job.
Appearing on The Project with his wife, Tanya, the Nelligen firefighter confirmed that he had been taken off-duty. But it wasn’t for “exhaustion” as the RFS reported; and it was more of a sacking than the ‘break’ that ‘off-duty’ implies.
“The message I got was about time you brought the truck back because we were about to send the police to go look for you,” he said.
“And then there were further comments with gestures and arm movements saying that I’m finished. It’s all over.
“Another captain from another brigade within Batemans Bay came out and I asked him the question, I said: ‘What’s going on?’ He said: ‘You’re finished because of your allegations and foul language against the PM of the country while representing the RFS’.”
Watch his full explanation, here:
“You’re finished because of your allegations and foul language against the prime minister of the country while representing the RFS.” Firefighter Paul Parker from Nelligen sacked from RFS. #TheProjectTV #auspol #AustralianFires pic.twitter.com/cBevXZRjzi
— David Marler (@Qldaah) February 16, 2020
And perhaps to make matters worse, Paul was sacked from a volunteer position where he was putting his life on the line to save others, and there was no follow-up by anyone to check on his well-being afterwards.
Yeah, that’s the way you treat someone who has spent days, weeks, months, maybe even years putting out fires (for free). That’s definitely the right course of action, to punish a man for telling it how it is, and speaking his exhausted mind after days of battling unprecedented blazes in Nelligen.
Just because you called out the Prime Minister – who took a Hawaiian vacation, has done nada for climate change, cut relevant funding, and had been on hand-shake-assault PR visits to bushfire-affected communities – while you were on the front line. Just because you hurt his feelings. Yes, that’s fair.
Didn’t know you could get sacked from a volunteer organisation but apparently you can.
So much for Morrison’s “if you’re having a go you’ll get a go”…
— Felix B Ratcliff (@FelixBRatcliff) February 16, 2020
Naturally, there has been serious backlash to the news that the voice of the people, Paul Parker, had been sacked. The hashtag #IStandWithFiremanPaul has been trending on Twitter.
Paul’s sacking was a disgraceful move. Dismissing someone just for expressing their legitimate views is not something that a democratic organisation or society would do. Paul has every right to make his voice heard. #IStandWithFiremanPaul
— 💧Joseph🍪 (@WokeBrownie) February 16, 2020
Whether he was “tired” or not, he was bloody right. #IStandWithFiremanPaul
— Wolfie Rankin (@Wolfie_Rankin) February 16, 2020
— 💧Anchinya the water spider (@anchinya) February 16, 2020
Whoever sacked Paul is a disgusting human being. The bloke put his life on the line fighting the fires and lost his house and position at the RFS becuase of it.
— Rxkii (@Rxkiix) February 16, 2020
— Damon Swayn (@Shruubi) February 16, 2020
Outside cyberspace, Paul’s been rewarded for voicing the nation’s thoughts with a never-ending tab at Nelligen’s local, the Steampacket Hotel. And there’s already a GoFundMe page set up to “buy Paul Parker of Nelligen a beer”, racking up $340 so far. That’s a heap of schooners.
And the support won’t stop flowing, with another GoFundMe set up by Paul’s neighbours. The page asks for donations to help rebuild his home which “suffered extensive damage” during the fires.
“Paul hasn’t been able to work, and therefore has not generated an income, due to his volunteering with the Rural Fire Service,” the page reads.
That sounds like a guy who deserves to be sacked, yeah right.
It’s unclear what comes next for the local (and national) hero.
But whatever it is, Paul has the backing of millions. And, by contrast, I doubt ScoMo is fairing that well in popularity polls.
So may we all go forth with his words printed in our hearts and minds, to preach whenever we are sick and tired of the nonsense: “go and get fucked, from Nelligen”.
Image Sources: Twitter (@KeiraGarden)