For months, gigantic bushfires have been devastating the south east of Australia, burning an estimated 6 million hectares – an area larger than Belgium – destroying thousands of homes, and killing at least 23 people.
Bushfires have also been threatening the power grid and as well as telecommunication networks. Fires and winds have been damaging power lines and disrupting power plants, affecting tens of thousands of households. Energy demand is also spiking as households switch on air-conditioners in scorching temperatures.
When the power is off, cash is the only way to pay
The Canberra Times reports that in Milton on the south coast of New South Wales, residents and holiday makers were forced to queue outside the local supermarket to buy food and water following a power cut. Customers were let in one by one and were only allowed six items during the outage. Customers paid in cash only and staff calculated totals using calculators.
Cash is an essential item in an Emergency Kit
Many newspapers and media are advising readers on how to plan in case of a bushfire and what to include in an emergency kit. Cash is one essential item on the list.
Limiting cash payments would be ill-advised
In 2019, the government had proposed a Currency Bill which would limit cash transactions to A$10,000. The Bill is currently before the Senate. Will the ongoing disaster influence the vote?
The role of cash in crisis situations
Understand how cash is managed for society in times of crisis with our Cash and Crises series:
Episode 1: Digital Money
Episode 2: The Role of Central Banks in Disaster Management
Episode 3: Multiplier Effects
Episode 4: Pre-paid Card Payments and Settlements