NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, was clearly expressing some deeply felt frustrations when he spoke on the subject of hazard reduction burns earlier this week.
The fire service veteran, who has been widely praised for the way in which he and his teams have responded to this summer's unprecedented and catastrophic bushfire season, appeared to be quite critical of recent opposition to the burns.
These have included well publicised protests on, among other areas, the NSW South Coast.
"Let's not forget, only a matter of months ago in NSW, we and the land management agencies, particularly national parks and forestry, we were public enemy number one because a byproduct of hazard reduction burning is smoke," he said.
Protesters have also cited "unnecessary" wildlife deaths, damage to the environment and the risk of planned burns getting out of control as reasons to oppose them in the past.
Mr Fitzsimmons, who conceded hazard control burns were not "the panacea", said they definitely had a major role to play and that the people charged with carrying them out were not "environmental bastards".
"We actually work through a sensible environmental regime," he said. Our priorities are life, property and the environment (in that order)".
While there is no doubt that much of the past opposition to the hazard control burns, both in NSW and elsewhere, has been sincere and well meant, Australia is currently seeing dramatic evidence of how bad things can get when fuel loads are allowed to build up to a catastrophic level.
When this happens in close proximity to a populated area the outcomes can be as tragic as they are devastating.
It is hard to argue against claims that air quality has been far worse and that many more animals have died than would have been the case if prudently managed hazard burns specifically designed to defend high risk areas had been carried out.
This was something we already knew however. Our most recent experience has reinforced one of the key lessons to emerge from the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday fires in Victoria just under a decade ago.
Those fires, in 2009, claimed 173 lives.
The Victorian Royal Commission recommended a significant increase in the amount of hazard reduction burning to be carried out across the state in order to minimise the risk history would repeat.
It was reported on Friday that in recent years this recommendation had been effectively ignored with the amount of hazard reduction burning in Victoria returning to pre-Black Saturday levels and even below.
Given this failure to meet the targets set by the commission will almost certainly be cited as one of the reasons for the severity of the Victorian blazes, this issue will undoubtedly be front and centre at any inquiry.
The issue of hazard reduction burns is a prime example of Henry Kissinger's famous dictum that "the perfect should never be the enemy of the good".
We live in an imperfect world. Sometimes difficult choices between unpalatable alternatives need to be made.
The perfect should never be the enemy of the good.
It is also timely to acknowledge the ADF personnel, including thousands of reservists, now making a significant contribution to the cleanup, the provision of services in devastated communities and even assisting fire injured animals. They, and the fire service volunteers, are doing a magnificent job.
There have been calls for recognition of the volunteers as a group in the national Australian of the Year awards. This is worthy of serious consideration and would not detract from their prestige or significance in any possible way.