COUNTRY Victorians could be forgiven for wondering which century they have been living in during the past few weeks.
Or, if they actually live in one of the world's richest nations.
Two unrelated events have shone a light on just how quickly the state's rural and regional people can have their daily lives and businesses thrown totally out of whack when service providers fail to provide essential services.
It is baffling why the response of such large, wealthy companies appears so sluggish. They seem slow to recognise just how vulnerable the withdrawal of their services leaves rural residents.
First came a small fire in a small building of a telecommunications company in Warrnambool.
And clunk, there goes the Telstra services to 60,000 landlines in southwest Victoria, 15,000 internet customers and its mobile phone coverage.
Three weeks after the region was plunged into a communications black hole, work continues and not all landlines are yet back up and running.
The disruption to business and people's daily lives is obvious, but there is also the added concern that such a blackout can happen. What if it occurred during a week of extreme fire danger, or worse, a bushfire?
Next, came last week's diesel shortage.
With headers full swing into harvest in much of the state, Victoria's diesel supply was thrown into turmoil, apparently due to a fault at the Geelong Shell Refinery.
While you could put both issues down to bad luck, management must take greater responsibility for not having better fall-backs.
Rural people are resilient and resourceful and have been patient with these two companies.
But just because country people are good at bearing up under pressure, it does not mean their goodwill should be exploited.
Governments and these companies need to work to prevent such large-scale disruptions from happening again. Otherwise, next time, the ramifications could be more serious.