Domestic Travel

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Russell Crowe shows incredible impact of recent rain on his property

<p>Hollywood star Russell Crowe has shown the incredible difference rain has made on his rural NSW property, only a few months after it was destroyed by a bushfire.</p> <p>Located 25km northwest of Coffs Harbour, Crowe resides in Nana Glen which was affected by the recent bushfires in November last year as it destroyed homes and land along the way.</p> <p>The actor owns 400 hectares of land around the area and said at the time that he was “overall very lucky” that his home was saved.</p> <p>At the time, the fire had left his property completely blackened, as everything from the trees to the grass was burnt to a crisp.</p> <p>But due to the heavy rain the state has seen in the last few days, his home has gone through an incredible transformation.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">My place 10 weeks ago after the fire had gone through, and this morning after a big weekend of rain. <a href="https://t.co/oOWz0gG5hp">pic.twitter.com/oOWz0gG5hp</a></p> — Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) <a href="https://twitter.com/russellcrowe/status/1219031928071843840?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 January 2020</a></blockquote> <p>Taking to Twitter, Crowe posted photos of the before and after.</p> <p>“My place 10 weeks ago after the fire had gone through, and this morning after a big weekend of rain,” he wrote.</p> <p>The first photo which was taken 10 weeks ago shows the entire area completely burnt, a complete juxtaposition to the most recent photo which was snapped this morning where the grass has turned a vibrant green colour.</p> <p>The Hollywood heavyweight wasn’t in Australia at the time of the fire but returned home to inspect the damage and rally a crew for the clean up.</p>

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Devastating scenes for wildlife rescuers at Kangaroo Island

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wildlife rescuers have been left heartbroken as they comprehend the sheer scale and task of helping injured wildlife that have been impacted by the bushfires.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wildlife rescuers were surrounded by burnt-out trees and ground covered with ash and dead animals who passed in the bushfires.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dozens of injured koalas have been arriving at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park’s makeshift animal hospital in cat carriers, washing baskets or clinging to their carers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, it’s not all positive as many that have been rescued are found to be so badly injured that they must be euthanised. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Steve Selwood, South Australia Veterinary Emergency Management team leader at the hospital said that 46,000 koalas were thought to be on the island before the bushfires. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The fires here were particularly ferocious and fast moving, so we’re seeing a lot less injured wildlife than in other fires,” he tells </span><a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/wildlife-rescuers-find-signs-of-life-among-kangaroo-island-devastation/news-story/869a45d590338135af1254b4f6ec1176"><span style="font-weight: 400;">news.com.au</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“A lot of the wildlife was incinerated.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With almost half of Kangaroo Island being ruined by fire, an estimated 80 per cent of koala habitat has been wiped out, which means that once the koalas are healed, they have nowhere to go.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This issue is on the backburner as teams of vets work to save as many native wildlife as they can.</span></p>

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Puma-sized cat sightings in NSW prompt investigation

<p>The New South Wales state government has launched an investigation into sightings of a puma-sized cat in the Hunter Valley.</p> <p>Maitland woman Bev Fraser told the <em><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-20/hunter-valley-big-cat-sighting-nsw-dpi-investigates/11877970">ABC</a> </em>she could not believe her eyes when she spotted a panther-sized big cat in a paddock next to her home.</p> <p>“It was too large to be an overgrown domestic cat – just a 50-kilo sort of animal sitting on my fence post,” Fraser said.</p> <p>She estimated the cat’s size based on the fence post on which it was sitting. “This cat had climbed up on a fence post and was sitting on a substantial fence post staring down into the undergrowth,” she said.</p> <p>“It was obviously hunting something, looking and concentrating obviously as cats do. I am now hesitant to go down there.”</p> <p>Fraser said she could not get closer than about 120 metres before the animal sensed her presence.</p> <p>“You know, it was 100 or so metres away, and that is a huge animal, and so I am still very convinced that is was a very large cat, but what variety I have no idea.”</p> <p>Hunter Valley man Chris O’Neill has also reported a sighting of a puma-sized cat about 30 kilometres from Fraser’s place.</p> <p>O’Neill said he was driving home for dinner last Thursday when he saw “a very big creature”.</p> <p>“A black feline cat-like creature, was kind of running under or near a truck and it was the same size as the wheel,” he told the <em>ABC</em>.</p> <p>“So it was a very big creature and its movement was cat-like but it certainly wasn’t a domestic cat.”</p> <p>The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) told the <em>ABC </em>it had launched an investigation into the feline sightings and would refer the report to either the NSW Police, the land manager, or the Livestock Health and Pest Authority.</p>

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Bushfire victims in Wytaliba inundated with support after sharing their story

<p>Two NSW families that lost everything in the devastating bushfires have revealed the generous offers of help they have been inundated with after sharing their stories last week.</p> <p>Al Bacon, who suffered from serious burns in the inferno at Wytaliba, last week said his family had received just $1,280 in government support since their home was destroyed.</p> <p>On the other end, Joe Borgia – a volunteer firefighter who battled the blaze – ended up spending his life savings in order to survive since their property was lost amongst the flames.</p> <p>Speaking to the<span> </span><em>ABC</em><span> </span>on Friday, they had said the disaster relief schemes were a “slap in the face” and “completely unrealistic”.</p> <p>Since then, dozens of strangers have reached out to help, offering money as well as building materials, a whole house of furniture and even a beach holiday.</p> <p>One man from Melbourne, Benjamin Thomson created a Facebook campaign to raise $15,000 for Mr Bacon’s family so they could build a kit home on their property.</p> <p>Mr Bacon spent weeks in hospital for burns to his arms, legs and face after the fire took over Wytaliba, taking multiple homes and killing residents George Nole and Vivian Chaplain in the process.</p> <p>Mr Thompson is a complete stranger to Mr Bacon, but he knew he needed to help.</p> <p>“I saw how much bureaucracy was slowing down money getting to people who need it,” he said.</p> <p>“And the best thing about the internet in 2020 is that you can get in touch with a complete stranger and do something good.”</p> <p>Mr Bacon said the $1,280 in relief assistance he had received from the Federal Government was “disgusting” but the kind-heartedness people were showing him was “a bloody good feeling”.</p> <p>“There’s some really good people out there,” he said.</p> <p>“I was a little bit blown away but I kind of thought, ‘hey, this is Australia, someone will give us a hand’.”</p> <p>Mr Bacon said if they manage to raise $15,000, he’ll distribute it amongst the community.</p> <p>Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer Mr Borgia, a father-of-one, said he had received “a few hundred dollars” since the article was published, but the offer of a free-holiday gave him some much-needed joy.</p> <p>With the last two months being something out of a nightmare, Mr Borgia said he felt “really excited” when a stranger reached out to gift them a free stay at her holiday home in South West Rocks.</p> <p>“My daughter has been asking ‘can we go to the beach, can we go to the beach’ so this is amazing,” he said.</p> <p>“It’s also right near my favourite scuba spot which I had been talking about going to ever since the fires.”</p> <p>Mr Borgia is still waiting to hear back on his application for disaster relief from the NSW Government.</p>

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Booking data shows new hotspot that beats out iconic Aussie favourites

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to new booking data, a city is set to be the hot spot for Aussie and overseas tourists this year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Online travel agency </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Trip.com</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has revealed to </span><a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/australian-holidays/western-australia/early-booking-data-has-revealed-australias-new-hotspot-for-2020/news-story/7d7e52ada59c75ffcb998beb252e49c4"><span style="font-weight: 400;">news.com.au</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that bookings have already been made for travellers from January 1 to the 31</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">st</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of December for this year to this one destination.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s Perth.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The West Australian capital has the most hotels pre-booked in 2020 by Australians, which puts it well ahead of usual favourites Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6zvHzTob96/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6zvHzTob96/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">‘Postcard perfection’ from @troy.a.sullivan taken on a recent #Rottnest adventure. The diversity of coral species, marine life and shipwrecks in the clear waters around #Rottnestisland make it a fascinating spot for #snorkelling 🐟🤿! Popular #beaches and #bays to snorkel include The Basin, Parakeet Bay, Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay and Little Armstrong Bay. 📷@troy.a.sullivan #justanotherdayinwa #westernaustralia #thisisWA #rotto #seeperth #indianocean #perthlife #rottnestislandwa #snorkelaustralia #snorkel #summerholidays</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/rottnestislandwa/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Rottnest Island</a> (@rottnestislandwa) on Jan 1, 2020 at 11:10pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Perth is also the number one spot for international visitors booking hotels in Australia. They’re heading to Perth, then Adelaide and then the Gold Coast, according to the data.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One spot in particular is catching the attention of Aussies and overseas travellers alike, as there are some cute and cuddly animals on the island.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rottnest Island, home of the quokka, has tourists heading to Perth in droves.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6g8Y8mIEjR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6g8Y8mIEjR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Rottnest Island (@rottnestislandwa)</a> on Dec 25, 2019 at 4:00pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Perth has really come of age, we have a vast area of either brand new or refurbished hotels and are very competitive on price,” Destination Perth CEO Tracey Cinavas-Prosser said in a statement.</span></p>

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Ash Barty answers reporters phone in utterly hilarious exchange

<p>Ash Barty has shared a hilarious moment with the press after taking a reporter’s phone in a press conference ahead of the Adelaide International.</p> <p>After stunning in the Brisbane singles before getting some time on court in the double and getting through to the final, Barty appeared relaxed ahead of the exciting tournament with the Australian Open just a mere week away.</p> <p>As she sat among reporters, a phone went off and Barty asked “Does anyone know a Kez, it’s got a grandma emoji?”</p> <p>However when the response of “yeah, can you put it on Aeroplane Mode” came, Barty decided on a different path.</p> <p>“Hey Kez,” Barty said, before thinking she’d been hung up on.</p> <p>“You still there? Hello. Who are you trying to reach?</p> <p>“It’s Ash Barty, who’s this?</p> <p>“He left his phone on during a press conference.”</p> <p>The hilarious moment was heightened when it was revealed the mystery Kez hung up on the tennis star.</p> <p>“She hung up on me,” Barty said with a shocked look on her face.</p> <p>While Kez may not be a massive fan of the world no. 1, Roger Federer admitted he is and even gave a few tips to the 23-year-old.</p> <p> “She can have a different mindset,” the 20-time grand slam champion said.</p> <p>“It can relax you and you can really explore all of your potential and that’s what happened to me when I won my first major, and I broke through as world No. 1 after that.</p> <p>“I thought, ‘Well now I’m the guy to beat and I prefer to be in this position rather than being a contender’.</p> <p>“I hope that Ash is also going to see it that way.”</p> <p>“Roger’s done a pretty good job of it over an extended period,” Barty responded.</p> <p>“He’s the best of the best and has been in that position for a long time, but I don’t think necessarily that he changes whether it’s 1, 2, 3 or 10 next to his name.</p> <p>“I think for me and my team, we’re trying to take that same approach. Having a number next to your name doesn’t guarantee anything, it doesn’t guarantee wins, you still have to go out there and do the work and get the runs on the board and work from there.</p> <p>“All you can do is do the best every single match and that’s how I’m going to approach Adelaide, that’s how I’m going to approach the Australian Open and that’s how I’m going to try and approach the rest of my career regardless of the number next to my name.”</p>

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The relief of rain after bushfires spells disaster for Aussie river systems

<p>When <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-bushfires-are-horrendous-but-expect-cyclones-floods-and-heatwaves-too-129328">heavy rainfall</a> eventually extinguishes the flames ravaging south-east Australia, another ecological threat will arise. Sediment, ash and debris washing into our waterways, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin, may decimate aquatic life.</p> <p>We’ve seen this before. Following 2003 bushfires in Victoria’s alpine region, water filled with sediment and debris (<a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1442-9993.2008.01851.x?casa_token=agMBKaIwouEAAAAA%3APypMeV5ZvxP-FB88fNaZ2E_Fyr1NCEkdPf8Q1CHfCEb8peTY_fT83a-tc86NZaix_Dbr7MpJfV9XVuk">known as sediment slugs</a>) flowed into rivers and lakes, heavily reducing fish populations. We’ll likely see it again after this season’s bushfire emergency.</p> <p>Large areas of northeast Victoria have been burnt. While this region accounts only for 2% of Murray-Darling Basin’s entire land area, water flowing in from northeast Victorian streams (also known as in-flow) contributes <a href="https://www.water.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/421639/NorthEast_SDS_WEB.pdf">38%</a> of overall in-flows into the Murray-Darling Basin.</p> <p>Fire debris flowing into Murray-Darling Basin will exacerbate the risk of fish and other aquatic life dying en masse <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/18/the-darling-will-die-scientists-say-mass-fish-kill-due-to-over-extraction-and-drought">as witnessed in previous years.</a>.</p> <p><strong>What will flow into waterways?</strong></p> <p>Generally, bushfire ash comprises <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115300177">organic carbon and inorganic elements</a> such as nitrogen, phosphorous and metals such as <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Singarayer_Florentine/publication/317106161_Risk_of_post-fire_metal_mobilization_into_surface_water_resources_A_review/links/59de6f650f7e9bcfab24033e/Risk-of-post-fire-metal-mobilization-into-surface-water-resources-A-review.pdf">copper, mercury and zinc</a>.</p> <p>Sediment rushing into waterways can also contain large amounts of soil, since fire has consumed the vegetation that once bound the soil together and prevented erosion.</p> <p>And <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169410006748">carcinogenic chemicals</a> – found in soil and ash in higher amounts following bushfires – can contaminate streams and reservoirs <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ldr.3427">over the first year after the fire</a>.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VwPnKCx2SNM"></iframe></div> <p><strong>How they harm aquatic life</strong></p> <p>Immediately following the bushfires, we expect to see an increase in streamflow when it rains, because burnt soil <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jof/article/102/6/16/4613173">repels</a>, not absorbs, water.</p> <p>When vast amounts of carbon are present in a waterway, such as when carbon-loaded sediments and debris wash in, bacteria rapidly consumes the water’s oxygen. The remaining oxygen levels can fall below what most invertebrates and <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1442-9993.2008.01851.x">fish</a> <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169412003691">can tolerate</a>.</p> <p>These high sediment loads can also <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0043135408001401#bib20">suffocate</a> aquatic animals with a fine layer of silt which coats their gills and other breathing structures.</p> <p>Habitats are also at risk. When sediment is suspended in the river and light can’t penetrate, suitable fish habitat is diminished. The murkier water also means there’s less opportunity for aquatic plants and algae to photosynthesise (turn sunshine to energy).</p> <p>What’s more, many of Australia’s <a href="https://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/etc.4400">waterbugs</a>, the keystone of river food webs, need pools with litter and debris for cover. They rely on slime on the surface of rocks and snags that contain <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/fwb.12778">algae, fungi and bacteria</a> for food.</p> <p>But heavy rain following fire can lead to pools and the spaces between cobbles to fill with silt, causing the waterbugs to starve and lose their homes.</p> <p>This is bad news for fish too. Any bug-eating fish that manage to avoid dying from a lack of oxygen can be faced with an immediate food shortage.</p> <p>We saw this in 2003 after the sediment slug penetrated the Ovens River in the north east Murray catchment. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1442-9993.2008.01851.x?casa_token=GQgDJxvEkN4AAAAA%3ATNhhYCetOkbRaRUSA57m9ERqH1ZFgXwauB_OdBAh4ofE089LGsi4WT9Bbax0PtxxkN2CrpqD71ybsPBS">Researchers</a> observed dead fish, stressed fish gulping at the water surface and freshwater crayfish walking out of the stream.</p> <p><strong>Long-term damage</strong></p> <p>Bushfires can increase the amount of nutrients in streams <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es500130g">100 fold</a>. The effects can persist for several years before nutrient levels return to pre-fire conditions.</p> <p>More nutrients in the water might sound like a good thing, but when there’s too much (especially nitrogen and phosphorous), coupled with warm temperatures, they can lead to excessive growth of blue-green algae. This algae can be toxic to both people and animals and often closes down recreational waters.</p> <p>Large parts of the upper Murray River catchment above Lake Hume has burnt, risking increases to nutrient loads within the lake and causing blue-green algae blooms which may flow downstream. This can impact communities from Albury all the way to the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia.</p> <p>Some aquatic species are already teetering on the edge of their <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00442-015-3463-7">preferred temperature</a> as stream temperatures rise from climate change. In places where bushfires have burnt all the way to the stream edge, decimating vegetation that provided shade, there’ll be less <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/MF04120">resistance to temperature changes</a>, and fewer cold places for aquatic life to hide.</p> <p>Cooler hide-outs are particularly important for popular angling species such as trout, which are highly <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/eco.1653">sensitive to increased water temperature</a>.</p> <p>But while we can expect an increase in stream flow from water-repellent burnt soil, we know from previous bushfires that, in the long-term, stream flow will drop.</p> <p>This is because in the upper catchments, regenerating younger forests use more water than the older forests they replace from <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wrcr.20351">evapotranspiration</a> (when plants release water vapour into the surrounding atmosphere, and evaporation from the surrounding land surface).</p> <p>It’s particularly troubling for the Murray-Darling Basin, where large areas are already enduring ongoing drought. Bushfires may exacerbate existing dry conditions.</p> <p><strong>So what can we do?</strong></p> <p>We need to act as soon as possible. Understandably, priorities lie in removing the immediate and ongoing bushfire threat. But following that, we must improve sediment and erosion control to prevent debris being washed into water bodies in fire-affected areas.</p> <p>One of the first things we can do is to restore areas used for bushfire control lines and minimise the movement of soil along access tracks used for bushfire suppression. This can be achieved using sediment barriers and other erosion control measures in high risk areas.</p> <p>Longer-term, we can re-establish vegetation along waterways to help buffer temperature extremes and sediment loads entering streams.</p> <p>It’s also important to introduce strategic water quality monitoring programs that incorporate real-time sensing technology, providing an early warning system for poor water quality. This can help guide the management of our rivers and reservoirs in the years to come.</p> <p>While our current focus is on putting the fires out, as it should be, it’s important to start thinking about the future and how to protect our waterways. Because inevitably, it will rain again.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129449/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paul-mcinerney-428290">Paul McInerney</a>, Research scientist, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gavin-rees-csiro-au-932733">gavin.rees@csiro.au</a>, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/klaus-joehnk-932732">Klaus Joehnk</a>, Senior research scientist, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-sweet-relief-of-rain-after-bushfires-threatens-disaster-for-our-rivers-129449">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Weather bureau says hottest driest year on record lead to extreme Aussie bushfire season

<p>The Bureau of Meteorology’s <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/aus/">annual climate statement</a> released today confirms 2019 was the nation’s warmest and driest year on record. It’s the first time since overlapping records began that Australia experienced both its lowest rainfall and highest temperatures in the same year.</p> <p>The national rainfall total was 37mm, or 11.7%, below the 314.5 mm recorded in the previous driest year in 1902. The national average temperature was nearly 0.2°C above the previous warmest year in 2013.</p> <p>Globally, 2019 is likely to be the second-warmest year, with global temperatures about 0.8 °C above the 1961–1990 average. It has been the warmest year without the influence of <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/watl/about-weather-and-climate/australian-climate-influences.shtml?bookmark=enso">El Niño</a>.</p> <p>Across the year, Australia experienced many extreme events including flooding in Queensland and large hail in New South Wales. However, due to prolonged heat and drought, the year began and ended with fires burning across the Australian landscape.</p> <p><strong>The effect of the long dry</strong></p> <p>Bushfire activity for the 2018–19 season began in late November 2018, when fires burned along a 600km stretch of the central Queensland coast. Widespread fires later followed across Victoria and Tasmania throughout the summer.</p> <p>Persistent drought and record temperatures were a major driver of the fire activity, and the context for 2019 lies in the past three years of drought.</p> <p>The dry conditions steadily worsened over 2019, resulting in Australia’s <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/#tabs=Tracker&amp;tracker=timeseries">driest year on record</a>, with area-average rainfall of just 277.6mm (the 1961–1990 average is 465.2 mm).</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308964/original/file-20200108-107204-1db0j0e.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308964/original/file-20200108-107204-1db0j0e.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span></p> <hr /> <p>Almost the entire continent experienced rainfall in the lowest 10th percentile over the year.</p> <p>Record low rainfall affected the central and southern inland regions of the continent and the north-eastern Murray–Darling Basin straddling the NSW and Queensland border. Many weather stations over central parts of Australia received less than 30mm of rainfall for the year.</p> <p>Every capital city recorded below average annual rainfall. For the first time, national rainfall was below average in every month.</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308965/original/file-20200108-107219-1kleetu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308965/original/file-20200108-107219-1kleetu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a></p> <p><span class="caption"></span><strong>Record heat dominates the nation</strong></p> <p>2019 was Australia’s warmest year on record, with the annual mean temperature 1.52°C above the 1961–1990 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.33°C above average in 2013.</p> <p>January, February, March, April, July, October, November, and December were all amongst the ten warmest on record for Australian mean temperature for their respective months, with January and December exceeding their previous records by 0.98°C and 1.08°C respectively.</p> <p>Maximum temperatures recorded an even larger departure from average of +2.09°C for the year. This is the first time the nation has seen an anomaly of more than 2 °C, and about half a degree warmer than the previous record in 2013.</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308966/original/file-20200108-107204-1jkzb9c.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308966/original/file-20200108-107204-1jkzb9c.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span></p> <hr /> <p>The year brought the nation’s six hottest days on record peaking at 41.9°C (December 18), the hottest week 40.5 °C (week ending December 24), hottest month 38.6 °C (December 2019), and hottest season 36.9 °C (summer 2018–19).</p> <p>The highest temperature for the year was 49.9 °C at Nullarbor (a new national December record) on December 19 and the coldest temperature was –12.0°C at Perisher Valley on June 20.</p> <p>Keith West in southeast South Australia recorded a maximum 49.2°C on December 20, while Dover in far southern Tasmania saw 40.1°C on March 2, the furthest south such high temperatures have been observed in Australia.</p> <p><strong>Accumulating fire danger over 2019</strong></p> <p>The combination of prolonged record heat and drought led to record fire weather over large areas throughout the year, with destructive bushfires <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/statements/scs72.pdf">affecting all states</a>, and multiple states at once in the final week of the year.</p> <p>Many fires were difficult to contain in regions where drought has been severe, such as northern NSW and southeast Queensland, or where below average rainfall has been persistent, such as southeast Australia.</p> <p>The Forest Fire Danger Index, a measure of fire weather severity, accumulated over the month of December was the highest on record for that month, and the highest for any month when averaged over the whole of Australia.</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308970/original/file-20200108-107231-17y2jph.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308970/original/file-20200108-107231-17y2jph.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span></p> <hr /> <p>Record-high daily index values for December were recorded at the very end of December around Adelaide and the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, East Gippsland in Victoria and the Monaro in NSW. These regions which experienced significant fire activity.</p> <p><strong>Don’t forget the floods</strong></p> <p>Amidst the dry, 2019 also included significant flooding across Queensland and the eastern Top End.</p> <p>Heavy rain fell from January into early February, with <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/statements/scs69.pdf">damaging floods</a> around Townsville and parts of the western Peninsula and Gulf Country.</p> <p>Tropical cyclone Trevor brought further heavy rainfall in April in the eastern Northern Territory and Queensland. Floodwaters eventually reached Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda which, amidst severe local rainfall deficiencies in South Australia, experienced its most significant filling since 2010–11.</p> <p>There was a notable absence of rainfall on Australia’s snow fields during winter and spring which meant less snow melt. Snow cover was generous, particularly at higher elevations.</p> <p><strong>What role did climate change play in 2019?</strong></p> <p>The climate each year reflects random variations in weather, slowly evolving natural climate drivers such as El Niño, and long-term trends through the influence of climate change.</p> <p>A strong and long-lived positive Indian Ocean Dipole – another natural climate driver – affected Australia from May until the end of the year, and played a major role in suppressing rainfall and raising temperatures for much of the year.</p> <p>Spring brought an unusual breakdown of the southern polar vortex which allowed westerly winds to affect mainland Australia. This reduced rainfall, raising temperature and contributing to the increased fire risk.</p> <p>Climate change continues to cause long-term changes to Australia’s climate. Conditions in 2019 were consistent with trends of declining rainfall in parts of the south, worsening fire seasons and rising temperatures.</p> <p> </p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-jones-2467">David Jones</a>, Climate Scientist, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-bureau-of-meteorology-1083">Australian Bureau of Meteorology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karl-braganza-1945">Karl Braganza</a>, Climate Scientist, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-bureau-of-meteorology-1083">Australian Bureau of Meteorology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/skie-tobin-431640">Skie Tobin</a>, Climatologist, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-bureau-of-meteorology-1083">Australian Bureau of Meteorology</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/weather-bureau-says-hottest-driest-year-on-record-led-to-extreme-bushfire-season-129447">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How Aboriginal people are experiencing the bushfire crisis

<p>How do you support people forever attached to a landscape after an inferno tears through their homelands: decimating native food sources, burning through ancient <a href="https://scartrees.com.au/about/">scarred trees</a> and destroying ancestral and totemic plants and animals?</p> <p>The fact is, the experience of Aboriginal peoples in the fire crisis engulfing much of Australia is vastly different to non-Indigenous peoples.</p> <p>Colonial legacies of eradication, dispossession, assimilation and racism continue to impact the lived realities of Aboriginal peoples. Added to this is the widespread exclusion of our peoples from accessing and managing traditional homelands. These factors compound the trauma of these unprecedented fires.</p> <p>As Australia picks up the pieces from these fires, it’s more important than ever to understand the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S175545861100065X">unique grief</a> Aboriginal peoples experience. Only through this understanding can effective strategies be put in place to support our communities to recover.</p> <p><strong>Perpetual grief</strong></p> <p>Aboriginal peoples live with a sense of perpetual grief. It stems from the as-yet-unresolved matter of the invasion and subsequent colonisation of our homelands.</p> <p>While there are many instances of <a href="http://www.corntassel.net/being_indigenous.pdf">colonial trauma</a> inflicted upon Aboriginal peoples – including the removal of children and the suppression of culture, ceremony and language – dispossession of Country remains paramount. Dispossessing people of their lands is a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277992187_Decolonization_Is_Not_a_Metaphor">hallmark of colonisation</a>.</p> <p>Australian laws have changed to partially return Aboriginal peoples’ lands and waters, and Aboriginal people have made their best efforts to advocate for more effective management of Country. But despite this, the majority of our peoples have been consigned to the margins in managing our homelands.</p> <p>Aboriginal people have watched on and been ignored as homelands have been <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-14/traditional-owners-predicted-bushfire-disaster/11700320?pfmredir=sm">mismanaged and neglected</a>.</p> <p>Oliver Costello is chief executive of <a href="https://www.firesticks.org.au">Firesticks Alliance</a>, an Indigenous-led network that aims to re-invigorate cultural burning. As he puts it:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Since colonisation, many Indigenous people have been removed from their land, and their cultural fire management practices have been constrained by authorities, informed by Western views of fire and land management.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>In this way, settler-colonialism is not historical, but a lived experience. And the growing reality of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959378009000223">climate change</a> adds to these anxieties.</p> <p>It’s also important to recognise that our people grieve not only for our communities, but for our non-human relations. Aboriginal peoples’ cultural identity comes from the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14486563.2013.819303">land</a>.</p> <p>As such, Aboriginal cultural lives and livelihoods continue to be tied to the land, including landscape features such as waterholes, valleys and mountains, as well as native animals and plants.</p> <p>The decimation caused by the fires deeply impacts the existence of Aboriginal peoples and in the most severe hit areas, threatens Aboriginal groups as distinct cultural beings attached to the land. As The Guardian’s Indigenous affairs editor Lorena Allam <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/06/for-first-nations-people-the-bushfires-bring-a-particular-grief-burning-what-makes-us-who-we-are">recently wrote</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Like you, I’ve watched in anguish and horror as fire lays waste to precious Yuin land, taking everything with it – lives, homes, animals, trees – but for First Nations people it is also burning up our memories, our sacred places, all the things which make us who we are.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>For Aboriginal people then, who live with the trauma of dispossession and neglect and now, the trauma of catastrophic fire, our grief is immeasurably different to that of non-Indigenous people.</p> <p><strong>Bushfire recovery must consider culture</strong></p> <p>As we come to terms with the fires’ devastation, Australia must turn its gaze to recovery. The field of community recovery offers valuable insights into how groups of people can come together and move forward after disasters.</p> <p>But an examination of <a href="https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/110384/1/Moreton%20Thesis%202016.pdf">research</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/disaster-recovery-from-australias-fires-will-be-a-marathon-not-a-sprint-129325">commentary</a> in this area reveals how poorly non-Indigenous Australia (and indeed, the international field of community recovery) understands the needs of Aboriginal people.</p> <p>The definition of “community” is not explicitly addressed, and thus is taken as a single socio-cultural group of people.</p> <p>But research in Australia and overseas has demonstrated that for Aboriginal people, healing from trauma – whether historical or contemporary – is a <a href="http://journals.sfu.ca/fpcfr/index.php/FPCFR/article/view/379/311">cultural and spiritual process</a> and inherently tied to land.</p> <p>The <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.12580">culture-neutral standpoint</a> in community recovery research as yet does not acknowledge these differences. Without considering the historical, political and cultural contexts that continue to define the lives of Aboriginal peoples, responses to the crisis may be inadequate and inappropriate.</p> <p><strong>Resilience in the face of ongoing trauma</strong></p> <p>The long-term effects of colonisation has meant Aboriginal communities are (for better or worse) accustomed to living with catastrophic changes to their <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2514848618777621">societies and lands</a>, adjusting and adapting to keep functioning.</p> <p>Experts consider these resilience traits as integral for communities to survive and recover from natural disasters.</p> <p>In this way, the resilience of Aboriginal communities fashioned through centuries of colonisation, coupled with adequate support, means Aboriginal communities in fire-affected areas are well placed to not only recover, but to do so quickly.</p> <p>This is a salient lesson for agencies and other non-government organisations entrusted to lead the disaster recovery process.</p> <p>The community characteristics that enable effective and timely community recovery, such as close social links and shared histories, already exist in the Aboriginal communities affected.</p> <p><strong>Moving forward</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-bushfire-recovery-agency">agency</a> in charge of leading the recovery in bushfire-affected areas must begin respectfully and appropriately. And they must be equipped with the basic knowledge of our peoples’ different circumstances.</p> <p>It’s important to note this isn’t “special treatment”. Instead, it recognises that policy and practice must be fit-for-purpose and, at the very least, not do further <a href="https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=767232205676002;res=IELAPA;type=pdf">harm</a>.</p> <p>If agencies and non-government organisations responsible for leading the recovery from these fires aren’t well-prepared, they risk inflicting new trauma on Aboriginal communities.</p> <p>The National Disability Insurance Agency offers an example of how to engage with Aboriginal people in <a href="https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/strategies/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-strategy">culturally sensitive ways</a>. This includes thinking about Country, culture and community, and working with each community’s values and customs to establish respectful, trusting relationships.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-bushfire-recovery-agency">new bushfire recovery agency</a> must use a similar strategy. This would acknowledge both the historical experiences of Aboriginal peoples and our inherent strengths as communities that have not only survived, but remain connected to our homelands.</p> <p>In this way, perhaps the bushfire crisis might have some positive longer-term outcomes, opening <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1474474018821419">new doors</a> to collaboration with Aboriginal people, drawing on our strengths and values and prioritising our unique interests.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129448/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bhiamie-williamson-930867">Bhiamie Williamson</a>, Research Associate &amp; PhD Candidate, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-weir-424635">Jessica Weir</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vanessa-cavanagh-931931">Vanessa Cavanagh</a>, Associate Lecturer, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/strength-from-perpetual-grief-how-aboriginal-people-experience-the-bushfire-crisis-129448">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Sam Newman has shocking new theory on how Aussies should combat bushfire crisis

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Sam Newman has gone public with a shocking new theory on how Australians should combat the bushfire crisis that’s hitting the country hard.</p> <p>Newman suggested on Twitter that Australia’s firefighting resources should be shifted towards recovery instead of working hard to contain the blazes.</p> <p>The 74-year-old said that recent fire activity in Yellowstone National Park suggests that Australia would be better off letting uncontained fires burn themselves out without any intervention from firefighters.</p> <p>“Survey done when Yellowstone National Park caught fire. It determined that all the resources deployed to fight the blaze stopped it NOT 1 minute before it went out naturally,” Newman posted on Twitter.</p> <p>“WE must take note and get out of its way.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Survey done when Yellowstone National Park caught fire. It determined that all the resources deployed to fight the blaze stopped it NOT 1 minute before it went out naturally. WE must take note and get out of its way. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/lifesaving?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#lifesaving</a> <a href="https://t.co/U9WLL4MrB2">pic.twitter.com/U9WLL4MrB2</a></p> — Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) <a href="https://twitter.com/Origsmartassam/status/1215175905569427456?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">9 January 2020</a></blockquote> <p>He also took aim at the “miserable pr**ks” who wouldn’t shake Scott Morrison’s hand and said that they should acknowledge the real reason the country is on fire.</p> <p>“What about the miserable pr**ks who won’t shake Scott Morrison’s hand, or acknowledge him because they think he’s responsible for Australia being on fire. Research the REAL reason,” Newman said on Twitter.</p> <p>When followers pressed Newman on the what the REAL reason was for the bushfires, he simply replied “Yes” or said nothing.</p> <p>Many Rural Fire Service volunteers have voiced their annoyance towards Scott Morrison for his perceived lack of leadership during the crisis. The woman who refused to shake Morrison’s hand spoke to<span> </span>10 News<span> </span>about the incident.</p> <p>When approached by the Prime Minister, Ms Salucci-McDermott said: “I’m only shaking your hand if you give more funding to our RFS (Rural Fire Service).</p> <p>“So many people here have lost their homes. We need more help.”</p> <p>She added: “I would have happily sat down and had a cup of tea with him if he had asked am I OK? What can we do to fix this situation?</p> <p>“He walked away as I asked for help … we’re desperate, and the people we look to when we are desperate are our leaders," she said, according to <em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/sam-newmans-theory-to-fight-fire-crisis/news-story/56fe566480dda9c915da7bbd332fa60e" target="_blank">news.com.au</a>.</em></p> <p>“He wasn’t here to help us was he.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper"> <div class="post-actions-component"> <div class="upper-row"><span class="like-bar-component"></span> <div class="watched-bookmark-container"></div> </div> </div> </div>

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The best, smartest post about the bushfires you'll ever read

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>An irritated firefighter has hit back at the misinformation that has circulated on social media about the current bushfire crisis in Australia.</p> <p>He took to Facebook to bust some myths that were spreading about the bushfires, their causes and the barriers that they face as firefighters.</p> <p>“First of all, does being a firey give me all the insight to this complex issue? Not even close and I need to make that clear,” the decorated firey began.</p> <p>“However I’ve felt a strong need to say something here because I just can’t stomach some of the false science and outright lies being peddled on social media as news or facts.</p> <p>“No, the Greens haven’t been stopping hazard reduction burns from taking place. We still do them and yes we should absolutely do more of them.”</p> <p>NSW Rural Fire Service Shane Fitzsimmon agrees with the firefighter, saying that there are “challenges” with hazard reduction.</p> <p>“Our biggest challenge with hazard reduction is the weather and the windows available to do it safely and effectively,” Mr Fitzsimmons said in an interview on <em>Sunrise.</em></p> <p>“Sure, there’s environmental and other checks to go through but we streamline those. There’s special legislation to give us clearance and to cut through what would otherwise be a very complex environment.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">"We've had tremendous support from the commonwealth - everything we've asked for, we've got"<a href="https://twitter.com/NSWRFS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NSWRFS</a> Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons responds to former fire chief Greg Mullins' claim the federal government ignored state requests for bushfire assistance.<a href="https://t.co/vg47W3JHmd">https://t.co/vg47W3JHmd</a> <a href="https://t.co/APqhKovp1N">pic.twitter.com/APqhKovp1N</a></p> — Sunrise (@sunriseon7) <a href="https://twitter.com/sunriseon7/status/1214290851553140736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 6, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>The viral firefighter said that drought and extreme weather conditions have made their jobs harder.</p> <p>“Yes, conditions have been so bad this season that fires have still burnt through areas where hazard reduction burns were completed earlier in the year,” he said.</p> <p>He has said that the government needs to invest more into hazard reduction burns.</p> <p>“NSW for example, as an estimate, would need to increase their budget from $100 million to a half billion, a five fold increase and that money needs to come from somewhere,” he said.</p> <p>He then went on to challenge both sides of the political bubble saying that people should look outside their social media feeds.</p> <p>“No, a video on Facebook of a guy in the bush screaming at the greens is not facts about what caused these fires. No, a video of someone shouting at ScoMo for not funding the NSW Rural Fire Service (state gov funded) is not facts about what caused these fires.”</p> <p>Viral posts about the bushfires have spread misinformation, with a popular post saying that fires were started by firebugs. Another popular post said that the fires were started by climate change activists to prove their point about the issue of climate change.</p> <p>Queensland University of Technology researcher Timothy Graham has said that the information has been spread by Twitter accounts using a hashtag to get their point across, #ArsonEmergency.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">More population means more arsonist <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ArsonEmergency?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ArsonEmergency</a> <a href="https://t.co/mrwjJgCyYL">https://t.co/mrwjJgCyYL</a></p> — LifeMatters (@Joshn11) <a href="https://twitter.com/Joshn11/status/1215042328353624064?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 8, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>“The motivation underlying this often tends to not be changing people’s opinions about the bushfire itself and how it’s happening, but to sow discord and magnify already existing tensions in polarised political issues,” Dr Graham told the ABC.</p> <p>Another University of Queensland lecturer in critical thinking, Peter Ellerton, said that the information is being spread so rapidly due to people looking for information that confirms their existing belief.</p> <p>“This is a wonderful example of ‘motivated reasoning’, where we justify how we hold onto a world view that’s served us in the past but as the evidence mounts against it,” Dr Ellerton told <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/firefighter-slams-outright-lies-about-bushfires-as-experts-expose-bots-and-bizarre-conspiracies/news-story/239e251201616f686a5e4d28c004947a" target="_blank">news.com.au.</a> </em></p> <p>“The attempts to preserve it are becoming more and more disparate and chaotic. You see this kind of thing happening more intensely.”</p> <p>With some posts suggesting that Muslims have lit fires as some kind of terror attack, Dr Ellerton calls for caution when reading the posts.</p> <p>“That stuff is only shocking if you begin with the assumption that people make decisions based on facts,” Dr Ellerton said.</p> <p>“They don’t. And we seldom have.</p> <p>“We’re far more persuaded by narratives than we are by facts. Facts are important, there’s no question about it, but they’re not enough.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper"> <div class="post-actions-component"> <div class="upper-row"><span class="like-bar-component"></span> <div class="watched-bookmark-container"></div> </div> </div> </div>

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Make bushfires less powerful by acknowledging the three pillars

<p>As monstrous blazes overwhelm Australia’s south-east, the need for a national bushfire policy has never been more urgent. Active land management such as hazard-reduction burning and forest thinning must lie at the core of any such policy.</p> <p>Done well, controlled burning limits a bushfire’s spread and makes suppression easier, by reducing the amount of flammable material. Clearing or thinning vegetation on roadsides and other areas also helps maintain fuel breaks, allowing firefighters access to forests in an emergency.</p> <p>As former fire chiefs <a href="https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/full-list-of-fire-and-emergency-chiefs-recommendations-to-federal-government/">recently pointed out</a>, of all factors driving a fire’s severity – temperature, wind speed, topography, fuel moisture and fuel load – fuel load is the only one humans can influence.</p> <p>The royal commission into Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires identified serious shortcomings in land and fuel management, primarily the domain of the states. Ten years ago I also called for a national approach to bushfires, including vegetation management.</p> <p>Relatively little has changed since. It is as though Australia suffers collective and institutional amnesia when it comes to bushfire preparedness. But the threat will only escalate. Australia must have a sustained commitment to better land management.</p> <p><strong>The three pillars of dealing with bushfires</strong></p> <p>Bushfire management comprises three planks: preparation, response and recovery.</p> <p>Preparation involves managing fuel loads and vegetation, maintaining access to tracks and fire breaks, planning fire response and ensuring sufficient human capacity and resources to respond to worst-case scenarios.</p> <p>Response involves deploying aircraft, fire trucks and firefighting personnel, and recovery requires social, financial and institutional support.</p> <p>The federal government mostly focuses on bushfire response and recovery, which now falls under the Department of Home Affairs and the responsible Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud.</p> <p>After major fire events in the 2000s, the Commonwealth committed significant resources to response. This included contributing to the cost of more fire-fighting planes and helicopters, and <a href="https://www.bnhcrc.com.au/">research funding</a>.</p> <p><strong>But what about fire preparation?</strong></p> <p>Prescribed burning is considered a key element of bushfire preparation. While there is some debate over its <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-surprising-answer-to-a-hot-question-controlled-burns-often-fail-to-slow-a-bushfire-127022">effect on a fire’s impact</a>, the Victorian bushfire royal commission concluded fuel modification at a sufficient scale can reduce the impact of even high-intensity fires.</p> <p>Other management actions include thinning dense forest areas, reducing the shrub layer mechanically where burning is not possible and maintaining fire breaks. As the climate changes, we may consider changing the tree species mix.</p> <p>The newly merged Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is the federal agency with most interest in land management. However other agencies such as the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources share some responsibilities.</p> <p>Federal funding for land management deals with single issues such as weeds, feral animals, threatened species or water quality. Funding is often piecemeal, doled out to government bodies or community groups with little coordination. As federal programs are implemented, states often withdraw funding.</p> <p>Former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins and other experts <a href="https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/full-list-of-fire-and-emergency-chiefs-recommendations-to-federal-government//">have warned</a> fuel reduction burning is “constrained by a shortage of resources in some states and territories”, as well as by warmer, drier weather which reduces the number of days burning can be undertaken.</p> <p>At state level, since the major fires of the 2000s, funding for fire management has increased and coordination between fire response and land management agencies has improved.</p> <p>However, the focus of the two groups remains divided, which can thwart progress. Fire services prioritise protecting lives and property once fires are going, while forest and land management agencies focus on reducing fire risk, and must consider a wider range of natural and community values.</p> <p>In a rapidly changing climate, land management requires a long-term adaptive strategy, underpinned by sound analysis and research, supporting laws and policies, with sufficient funding and human resources. Bipartisan political support and leadership continuity is needed to sustain it.</p> <p><strong>A national approach</strong></p> <p>State agencies cannot carry the full financial burden for fire preparedness. With fire events happening in almost all states and territories, it is clear we need a national approach.</p> <p>The federal government collects most tax revenue and should contribute a greater share of the costs of prescribed burning, maintaining access, fire detection, and rapid firefighting response.</p> <p>Federal spending on land management can be better integrated to engage and protect communities, conserve biodiversity, maintain water quality, manage forest carbon emissions and improve forest resilience to future fires. Recent federal investments in <a href="http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/ERF/Choosing-a-project-type/Opportunities-for-the-land-sector/Savanna-burning-methods">savannah burning in northern Australia</a> are a good example of this.</p> <p>A federal bureau of bushfire and land management could support national policy and coordinate investment, including monitoring and reporting on forest and land condition. State agencies, local authorities and private landowners could continue to provide management to meet national targets.</p> <p>Commitment to public education is also critical. Many people do not understand the need for appropriate human interventions, such as prescribed burning or thinning, to protect the forests we all enjoy. We must also learn from traditional owners about how to live in our country and manage land with fire.</p> <p>In December, the federal government initiated an inquiry into the <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/About_the_House_News/Media_Releases/Committee_to_examine_efficacy_of_vegetation_and_land_management_policy_on_bushfires">efficacy of vegetation and land management and bushfires</a>. This inquiry needs to be expanded, avoiding the simplified debates of the past, and bring together all parties to identify solutions.</p> <p>As one of the most urbanised countries on Earth, there are few votes to be gained in more spending on rural land management. Hazard reduction is a sometimes risky, labour-intensive measure, and tensions between reducing fuel loads and conserving the environment must be managed.</p> <p>However after the grief, anger and recriminations from these fires have passed, it’s time for an urgent national rethink – and the Morrison government must lead the way.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129323/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rod-keenan-100">Rod Keenan</a>, Professor, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/theres-only-one-way-to-make-bushfires-less-powerful-take-out-the-stuff-that-burns-129323">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Prince Charles admits he has watched the Australian bushfires take its course in “appalling horror”

<p>Prince Charles has released an emotional video message for Australians as the country battles bushfires all over the nation - revealing that he has been watching “the appalling horror… in despair”.<span> </span></p> <p>The royal has long made an effort to warn about the effects of climate change, and in this statement said the scope of the loss was “not to be believed possible”.<span> </span></p> <p>He went on to say that both he and the Duchess of Cornwall had kept the “remarkable, courageous, determined firefighters who have done much and worked ceaselessly to exhaustion” in their thoughts.<span> </span></p> <p>In a heartfelt tribute recorded at Birkhall, the Prince’s home in Scotland, he praised the resilience of the Australian people and expressed confidence that “despite the horror” they would “find a way to face it all and win through.”</p> <p>Intense blazes have ruined and destroyed 8.4 million hectares – an area larger than Scotland - of Australian bushland.<span> </span></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/m8FnorbkJS4" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The drought and record high temperatures that have contributed to ravage Australia, and have been since the start of its summer have led to the deaths of as many as half a billion wild native animals.</p> <p>To address Australia directing, the Prince said:<span> </span>“I fear this is a hopelessly inadequate way of trying to get a message to all of you that both my wife and myself are thinking of you so very much at such an incredibly difficult time and in such impossible and terrifying circumstances.</p> <p>“Both of us have been in despair the last several weeks watching this appalling horror unfolding in Australia and witnessing so much of what you are having to go through from this distance.</p> <p>“Those of you who have tragically lost your properties, your houses, everything.. to me it is, and to both of us, not to be believed possible. And I know how many houses have been lost.”</p> <p>He added: “Above all, we wanted to say how much we have been thinking of all those remarkable, courageous, determined firefighters who have done much and worked ceaselessly to exhaustion.<span> </span></p> <p>“We feel so deeply for the families of those who have been lost and lost their lives in the course of carrying out their remarkable duties as only they can do.</p> <p>“We also think of all the Australian wildlife that is destroyed in these appalling infernos, let alone everything else.</p> <p>“We both know how incredibly special and resilient the Australian people are.</p> <p>So I know at the end of the day, despite all this horror, you will find a way to face it all and win through.</p> <p>“All I can say is we are thinking of you and praying from you in the most determined way. I’m very proud to know you all.”</p> <p>Prince Charles is launching a new aim sometime throughout January to find solutions to the carbon emissions issue the world is facing.<span> </span></p> <p>The Sustainable Markets Council will bring together leading international figures from the private, public and philanthropic sectors to identify ways of “decarbonise the global economy” and make the transition to sustainable markets.</p> <p>Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall last visited Australia in April of 2018, where they travelled throughout the Northern Territory and Queensland.<span> </span></p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the royal couple’s travels through Australia in 2018.</p> <p><em>OverSixty, its parent company and its owners are donating a total of $200,000 to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal. We have also pledged an additional $100,000 of product to help all those affected by the bushfire crisis. We would love you to support too! Head to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw" target="_blank">Vinnie's website</a>​ to donate!​</em><br /><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker">​</span></p>

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Zara and Mike Tindall's act of kindness amid bushfire disaster

<p>Mike and Zara Tindall have taken time out of their Queensland holiday to attend a fundraiser for bushfire victims.</p> <p>The couple have been in Australia since December as they celebrated the New Year with a few celebrity friends.</p> <p>On Sunday, the Tindall’s attended the Magic Millions Polo tournament, which was helping raise money for the firefighter’s fund.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B67pLjiA3Uz/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B67pLjiA3Uz/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Awesome way to kick off @magicmillions week with the @magicmillionspolo . Such a good laugh and a great start to fundraising for the firefighters fund! #magicmillionsfamily @countryroadman @pacificfair</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by @<a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/mike_tindall12/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> mike_tindall12</a> on Jan 5, 2020 at 12:52am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Zara opted for a chic red printed dress with a black trilby hat and red gold chain bag. Mike wore a navy shirt with a light blue blazer, chinos and trainers, carrying a white hat.</p> <p>Taking to Instagram to share a series of photos from the event, Mike wrote:</p> <p>“Awesome way to kick off @magicmillions week with @magicmillionspolo. Such a good laugh and a great start to fundraising for the firefighter fund!”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Awesome way to kick off magicmillions week with the magicmillionspolo . Such a good laugh and a great start to fundraising for the firefighters fund! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/magicmillionsfamily?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#magicmillionsfamily</a> countryroadman <a href="https://twitter.com/pacificfairGC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@pacificfairGC</a> @ Gold Coast,… <a href="https://t.co/ufb8B9Yr84">https://t.co/ufb8B9Yr84</a></p> — mike tindall (@miketindall13) <a href="https://twitter.com/miketindall13/status/1213745009180069888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">5 January 2020</a></blockquote> <p>He also shared news of the event on Twitter.</p> <p>Zara is an equestrian, Olympian and the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II. She is first cousin to Prince William and Prince Harry. Mike is a former rugby player.</p> <p><em>OverSixty, its parent company and its owners are donating a total of $200,000 to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal. We have also pledged an additional $100,000 of product to help all those affected by the bushfire crisis. We would love you to support too! Head to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw" target="_blank">Vinnie's website</a> to donate!</em></p>

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Making sense of Australia's bushfire crisis

<p>Bushfires plunder lives and landscapes in myriad ways, but they often start the same way. A bright morning suddenly turns to night. Ash flutters down from the sky, propelled ahead of the roaring fire front. An awful red glow slinks over the horizon.</p> <p>When I awoke in the NSW south coast town of Bermagui on the last day of 2019, I should have twigged straight away. At 8am the sky was a gruesome orange-black, the surrounding bush freakishly quiet. Our mobile phones had no signal. Outside, my car was coated in soot.</p> <p>We knew fires were burning more than 100km up the coast at Batemans Bay, but Bermagui had seemed a safe distance away. Suddenly, it wasn’t.</p> <p>Fire was bearing down on the seaside town, <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6561329/residents-evacuate-to-beaches-as-south-coast-fires-pose-serious-threat/">burning so fiercely</a> it created its own thunderstorm. Residents evacuated to the beach after emergency text messages at 4am, but with our phone service down we’d slept on, oblivious. When my partner and I woke and worked out what was happening, we too bundled our bewildered young son into the car and fled.</p> <p>Of course amid the devastation wrought this fire season, a disrupted holiday is nothing to complain about. Bushfires have decimated huge swathes of Australia this fire season, taking with them, at the time of writing, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/04/australia-fires-death-toll-rises-and-six-people-missing-as-pm-calls-in-military">23 lives</a> and more than 1500 homes.</p> <p>Thousands of holidaymakers in NSW and Victoria were <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/families-stuck-in-mallacoota-after-navy-ships-discouraged-children-under-5-20200104-p53otm.html">stranded for days</a> in towns with <a href="https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/australias-apocalyptic-bushfire-towns-go-into-panic-stations-as-supermarket-shelves-are-cleared-petrol-stations-run-dry-water-supplies-are-contaminated-and-communities-struggle-without-power/ar-BBYwcd7">dwindling food</a> and <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6564632/fuel-shortages-slowing-bushfire-evacuees/?cs=14231">fuel </a>supplies. Some were forced to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/01/malua-bay-fire-survivors-tell-how-1000-people-lived-through-a-night-of-flames-on-nsw-beach">shelter on beaches</a>, dodging embers and watching flames creep ever closer. And we cannot forget the animals – <a href="https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/01/03/a-statement-about-the-480-million-animals-killed-in-nsw-bushfire.html">millions have been killed</a> this fire season, or will soon die from lack of food or shelter.</p> <p>With all roads out of Bermagui closed, we spent New Year’s Eve at a local club which had hastily been converted into an evacuation centre. Many evacuees were from the nearby fire-hit town of Cobargo. Some knew the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-31/father-and-son-patrick-and-robert-salway-die-in-cobargo-bushfire/11835194">father and son</a> who died after staying to defend their property. Many would presumably soon discover their own homes were gone. They watched, hands over their mouths, as the club’s giant plasma screens beamed images of their once-charming town, now a jumble of rubble and corrugated iron.</p> <p>We lay our doonas down between rows of poker machines and lined up for dinner with hundreds of other evacuees. Food supplies in the town had already run short – the shelves of the local Woolworths were all but empty. To feed the hordes, volunteers began rationing dinner portions to just half a sausage and a slice of bread. They had no idea where tomorrow’s meals would come from.</p> <p>All this raises inevitable questions. To what extent is climate change driving these fires, and how much of that is Australia’s fault? Do we need a permanent, paid rural fire-fighting force to deal with this “new normal”? Are our fuel, food and communications systems resilient enough to cope with these disasters? And how do we cope with the deep anxiety these fires provoke, on both a personal and societal level?</p> <p>Over the coming days and weeks, The Conversation will examine the tough issues emerging from this crisis. Our authors, experts in the field, will cut through the political spin and information barrage to help you understand this national disaster, and what it means for our future.</p> <p>Today, the University of Tasmania’s David Bowman examines whether it’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-bushfire-and-holiday-seasons-converge-it-may-be-time-to-say-goodbye-to-the-typical-australian-summer-holiday-129337">time to ditch the traditional summer holiday</a>, when thousands of people head to bushy areas in peak bushfire season. And while the fires absorb our attention, Monash University’s Neville Nicholls <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-bushfires-are-horrendous-but-expect-cyclones-floods-and-heatwaves-too-129328">reminds us</a> that cyclones, floods and heatwaves are also likely this summer.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308512/original/file-20200105-11929-1o23zqy.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">The aftermath of fires at Cobargo, near Bermagui, where buildings were destroyed and two men died.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Sean Davey</span></span></p> <p>On New Year’s Day, the wind having blown the fires away from Bermagui, officials opened a road out. They warned us to leave before conditions changed again. We had just under half a tank of diesel, and neither Bermagui nor the next town, Tarthra, had supplies. We drove on. No diesel at Bega either, until a local told us of a truck station on the outskirts of town where we filled up.</p> <p>The trip home was slow and smoky, and phone reception patchy. It struck me how vulnerable we are to technology and transport systems that can so easily shut down. We tried to buy a paper map in case of detours, but no service stations stocked them.</p> <p>Our three-year-old son grasped little of what was happening. I suggested a game of I-Spy, but it was soon abandoned – the smoke meant there was nothing much to see. We drove through blackened landscapes where sheep wandered paddocks with the wool burnt off their backs. My son, sensing the mood, asked why his dad and I were so quiet.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308515/original/file-20200105-11900-15npdpw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Smoke haze in Canberra from the South Coast bushfires has pushed air quality to extremely hazardous levels.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Lucas Coch/AAP</span></span></p> <p>In the days after we arrived back in Canberra, air quality was more than <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6562383/air-quality-in-parts-of-canberra-20-times-above-hazardous-level/">20 times above hazardous levels.</a> Shops and swimming pools were closed, and mail deliveries were cancelled. A woman reportedly died from respiratory distress after exiting a plane to a tarmac filled with smoke. Babies were <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/ginarushton/baby-delivery-canberra-bushfire-smoke">born into smoke-filled hospital theatres</a>; their parents despaired at what the future holds.</p> <p>When the immediate threat of these fires has passed, many bigger questions will remain. The Conversation will continue to bring you the responsible, evidence-based journalism you need to be properly informed. Thank you for your continued support.</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/au/team#nicole-hasham">Nicole Hasham</a>, Section Editor: Energy + Environment, <a href="http://www.theconversation.com/">The Conversation</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/making-sense-of-australias-bushfire-crisis-means-asking-hard-questions-and-listening-to-the-answers-129302">original article</a>.</em></p>

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John Howard gives Scott Morrison his crisis report card

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Former Prime Minister John Howard has defended current Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the way that Morrison has handled the bushfire crisis that’s ravaging the country.</p> <p>Howard said to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6120136316001" target="_blank">Sky News</a></em><span> </span>political editor Andrew Clennell that “the last thing you could ever say about Scott Morrison is that he lacks compassion and empathy".</p> <p>Howard also believes that Morrison has made any mistakes in his response to the crisis.</p> <p>"He dealt with the issue of his holiday and since he's been back, he's hardly drawn breath," he said.</p> <p>Howard also spoke to the<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/john-howard-praises-scott-morrison-but-urges-him-to-work-with-states-20200105-p53p1u.html" target="_blank">Sydney Morning Herald</a> </em>about Morrison, saying that Morrison’s Hawaiian holiday has been “dealt with” and that he’s more than made up for it by visiting the affected areas.</p> <p>“He’s been on the case – he’s visited the bushfire areas. There’s a danger when people come under attack of a particular aspect of your handling of something that everything surrounding that can be over-analysed,” he said.</p> <p>“Every human being is different and handles things differently. I think what I’ve seen of him in crowds, showing sympathy and compassion, I can’t really fault. I don’t have any criticism. I think he is a very human, warm sort of person. That’s my experience with him. He does understand human emotions very well.”</p> <p><em>OverSixty, its parent company and its owners are donating a total of $200,000 to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal. We have also pledged an additional $100,000 of product to help all those affected by the bushfire crisis. We would love you to support too! Head to the <a href="https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw">Vinnie's website</a> to donate!</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper"> <div class="post-actions-component"> <div class="upper-row"><span class="like-bar-component"></span> <div class="watched-bookmark-container"></div> </div> </div> </div>

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Black Saturday firefighters want you to listen to them

<p>Evocative <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-bushfires-intensify-we-need-to-acknowledge-the-strain-on-our-volunteers-127517">images of volunteer firefighters</a> fill our newspapers and television screens. As we look with gratitude into their ash-stained faces, we want to see a modern-day hero looking back at us.</p> <p>But firefighters don’t want us to see heroes, because calling them heroes overstates their ability to control fires and downplays the long-term psychological impacts of fighting fires.</p> <p>That’s what we’ve learned after interviewing Black Saturday firefighters ten years after the tragedy, as part of an ongoing research project exploring the role of memory and commemoration in organisational planning.</p> <p>As we listen to their recollections of that day, there is no doubt they engaged in heroic acts and need to be remembered for their bravery. But when we laud firefighters as heroes, we fail to acknowledge the ongoing impact of the fires. As one firefighter told us:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Each year on the Black Saturday anniversary every community group wanted to have a thank you event and they were getting frustrated by the firefighters not turning up.</em></p> <p><em>What they couldn’t understand was what the firefighters were physically and mentally going through at that time.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Memorials do the remembering for us</strong></p> <p>Government funding for firefighting needs to make provision for counselling services for firefighters dealing with the long-term psychological effects of fighting fires.</p> <p>Several firefighters talked about “deliberately trying not to remember because it is so difficult”. For others, remembering together was part of the healing process.</p> <blockquote> <p><em>After the 10th anniversary, I had a bit of a meltdown. We’d arranged a gathering of that group of people who were very close on the day and I wasn’t going to go. I just had a picture of myself sitting in the corner crying my eyes out all night and it’s the first time that group had come together since the first anniversary and as it turned out it was brilliant.</em></p> <p><em>It was exactly what we needed. It was a very close group of people who had a lot of trust in each other.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Over the past decade, memorials have been erected in communities affected by the Black Saturday fires. But firefighters we spoke to were concerned that creating memorials allowed communities and authorities to relegate the fires and their impact to the past.</p> <p><a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.105">Scholars of commemoration</a> have observed that giving monumental form to memory can enable us to divest ourselves of the obligation to remember. It’s as if the memorial does the remembering for us.</p> <p>Rather than building memorials, firefighting organisations need to commemorate through forms of collective communing, where knowledge is shared by older, experienced hands with new firefighters.</p> <p>This communal commemoration could build on the informal forms of commemoration that firefighters told us they prefer – sitting around the fire truck, sharing stories. <a href="https://www.emv.vic.gov.au/news/linton-staff-ride">Staff rides</a>, for instance, a tactical walk retracing the steps of those involved in a major fire, is an effective way of passing on knowledge while also remembering and honouring the work of firefighters.</p> <p><strong>Making sure it never happens again</strong></p> <p>Black Saturday firefighters we spoke to urged memorialisation to elicit a call to action.</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Memorials do have a profound effect. The Kinglake memorial for me is extremely powerful in terms of reminding us of the scale of the tragedy, the names – I can still picture the faces. It is deeply emotional and powerful.</em></p> <p><em>But how we can translate that powerful emotion into a resilience and a determination to make sure it never happens again?</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Firefighters don’t want a roll call of heroes, but for communities to remember the lessons we have learnt from <a href="https://theconversation.com/where-to-take-refuge-in-your-home-during-a-bushfire-72370">past fires</a> and to ensure they have a bushfire plan and to heed warnings to leave.</p> <p>As one firefighter said about the Black Saturday anniversary:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>It should have been an opportunity to remind people of the dangers of bushfires and what can happen and the limitations of an organisation like ours, and to use that in a positive way to reinforce future preparedness rather than constantly looking back at the tragedy and not learning anything from it.</em></p> <p><em>It was a national tragedy owned by everybody and we should be able to build up a cultural memory.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Collective memory carries an ethical obligation. In commemorating firefighters as heroes, we can fall into the danger of overstating their ability to control fires, absolving ourselves of <a href="https://theconversation.com/victorias-trial-by-fire-why-we-still-need-to-tackle-complacency-21289">responsibility</a>.</p> <p>Rather than simply valorising and memorialising firefighters as heroes, all levels of governments need to accept responsibility for their role in mitigating future bushfire impacts.</p> <p>This means ensuring the landscape is managed appropriately, that our firefighters have the resources to fight fires, and that there is effective, science-based climate policy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/128632/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leanne-cutcher-156380"><em>Leanne Cutcher</em></a><em>, Professor, University of Sydney Business School, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graham-dwyer-908955">Graham Dwyer</a>, Lecturer at the Centre for Social Impact, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-can-still-picture-the-faces-black-saturday-firefighters-want-you-to-listen-to-them-not-call-them-heroes-128632">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Cash for aces: Nick Kyrgios to serve up bushfire relief

<p><span>Nick Kyrgios has pledged to donate $200 for every ace he hits this summer to raise funds for bushfire-affected communities.</span></p> <p><span>“I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer,” the world no. 30 wrote on Twitter Thursday night.</span></p> <p><span>Australian teammate Alex de Minaur joined in, saying he would contribute $250 per ace. “I will go $250 per ace, just because I don’t think I’ll be hitting as many aces as you mate,” de Minaur responded to Kyrgios’ post.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MoreToCome?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MoreToCome</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StayTuned?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StayTuned</a></p> — Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) <a href="https://twitter.com/NickKyrgios/status/1212677231270645762?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 2, 2020</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">I like this I will go $250 per ace, just because I don’t think I’ll be hitting as many aces as you mate. 😂😂😂 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/dropthehammer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#dropthehammer</a> <a href="https://t.co/SxMPs3XQud">https://t.co/SxMPs3XQud</a></p> — alex de minaur (@alexdeminaur) <a href="https://twitter.com/alexdeminaur/status/1212686230296547328?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 2, 2020</a></blockquote> <p><span>The pledge came after Kyrgios proposed a charity exhibition match to Tennis Australia.</span></p> <p><span>“C’mon @TennisAustralia surely we can do a pre @AustralianOpen exho to raise funds for those affected by the fires?” the 24-year-old shared to Twitter on Wednesday.</span></p> <p><span>The governing body’s CEO Craig Tiley said initiatives to help raise money for bushfire relief will be announced soon, beginning at the inaugural ATP Cup.</span></p> <p><span>The tournament, which will take place in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, announced on Friday morning that every ace served in its inaugural competition will see $100 donated to Australian Red Cross.</span></p> <p><span>The game’s headline acts included world no. 1 Rafael Nadal and and no. 2 Novak Djokovic.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Each ace served across the <a href="https://twitter.com/ATPCup?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ATPCup</a> at all three venues will deliver $100 to the <a href="https://twitter.com/RedCrossAU?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RedCrossAU</a> bushfire disaster relief and recovery efforts.<br /><br />With more than 1500 aces expected to be served, the tournament contribution is expected to exceed $150,000.</p> — ATPCup (@ATPCup) <a href="https://twitter.com/ATPCup/status/1212739231916818435?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 2, 2020</a></blockquote> <p><span>“For weeks we’ve been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts,” Tiley said on Thursday. </span></p> <p><span>“We ... will announce a number of fundraising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for further announcements.”</span></p>

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Bring her home for Christmas: Mystery of missing woman with dandelion tattoo

<p>A woman has disappeared without a trace in Melbourne just a week before Christmas.</p> <p>Brooke Cox was last spotted on Saturday December 14 at 29 Grey Street, St Kilda – a Salvation Army Centre which offers support for those facing a crisis such as homelessness and violence.</p> <p>The 29-year-old can be identified by a distinct music note and dandelion tattoo on her right arm.</p> <p>Her sister Skye has been trying to locate the Brighton local by walking the streets for the past week, saying Brooke has fallen through the cracks of Australia’s public health system.</p> <p>Speaking to<span> </span><em>Daily Mail Australia</em>, Brooke admitted herself to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne three weeks ago after a drug-induced psychosis.</p> <p>According to Skye, doctors were pushing for Brooke’s release despite her family urging them to provide her with the help she needed.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSkyeLCox%2Fposts%2F10156878832071662&amp;width=500" width="500" height="483" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>After being discharged, she was picked up by police and taken to a crisis centre.</p> <p>That is where she dealt with another relapse and disappeared without her phone and ID.</p> <p>Brooke is said to be five-foot-tall, with green eyes and bleach blonde wavy shoulder-length hair.</p> <p>She also has a sun and a moon tattoo on her neck and a faith tattoo on her right foot.</p> <p>The last time she was seen, she was sporting a red jumper with a white star, black leggings and a wraparound short-skirt with flowers and brown ankle boots.</p> <p>“All I want is her home for Christmas and for the public and mental health system to stop letting her slip through the cracks,” said Skye.</p> <p>“It’s absolutely horrible that the government has let Australia most vulnerable down like this.”</p> <p>The<span> </span><em>Daily Mail<span> </span></em>reached out to Victoria Police but authorities said the were unable to verify the missing persons status by the time of publication.</p>

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Johanna Griggs shares terrifying video of bushfires raging near her home

<p>Better Homes &amp; Gardens host Johanna Griggs has shared a shocking video of bushfires raging near her home in Wollombi, NSW.</p> <p>Wollombi is in the Hunter Valley of NSW and has been impacted greatly by bushfires.</p> <p>According to the NSW Rural Fire Service, there are currently 110 fires burning across the state with 59 not being contained.</p> <p>Griggs shared the video on her Instagram, saying that it has been a “wild few weeks” for her and her family.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6FGuOZg4BM/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6FGuOZg4BM/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">For everyone who has been sending messages checking in on us, thank you; We are great. It’s been a wild few weeks. With fire fronts in 3 directions we prepped for the worst, but thankfully are the lucky ones this time around. The first video was from last Tuesday which was definitely the worst day up here for us. The rest of the time it’s been stinking hot and smoky as. Whilst conditions still aren’t great we feel more confident that we’ll be ok. Thanks to everyone who understood why we cancelled all our catch ups and stayed put ‘Just In Case’. We used our time well - with new firebreaks the whole way round the house paddock, 2 fire trailers ready, 6 watering stations (Huge thanks to @harry.ledwidge and #guyledwidge for dropping everything, flying in and helping us for 10 days! What Legends... and to @bradmarsland69 and @hoban_david who joined in the prep regularly in between work shifts. Thank you!!!) My OC tendencies had a ball working my way down my cleaning list! (I still have plenty to go) The veggie garden has produced and provided non stop. (Not included in the pics are the cabbages, carrots, broad beans, herbs and spinach - Also growing really well are eggplants, capsicum, chillis, bok Choy, pumpkins and sweet potatoes) Our bees haven’t fled the smoke, and have produced in abundance. We are so grateful to the @nswrfs and other emergency services for everything they have done, and continue to do. And we’re so sorry for everyone who has had a horrible time during this period. Our hearts break for you and for all the wildlife lost in these horrible fires. It’ll be a long hot summer for sure for all. We hope everyone stays safe...:) #hugginshill #growyourown #biofilta_urbanfarms #flowhive #hhvfs</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/johgriggs7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Johanna Griggs</a> (@johgriggs7) on Dec 14, 2019 at 8:32pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“With fire fronts in 3 directions we prepped for the worst, but thankfully are the lucky ones this time around,” she wrote.</p> <p>“The first video was from last Tuesday which was definitely the worst day up here for us. The rest of the time it’s been stinking hot and smoky as.”</p> <p>With a heatwave casted for this week, fans were anxious about her house being okay, but Griggs is confident that they’ll be fine.</p> <p>“Thanks to everyone who understood why we cancelled all our catch ups and stayed put ‘Just In Case’,” she said.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B5uPapQg09T/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B5uPapQg09T/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Watching, Waiting. Totally Prepped and Calm. Thinking of all the @nswrfs personnel and what an amazing job they are doing in incredibly tough conditions. And thinking of everyone in Wollombi.... (That’s where the glow and smoke is coming from). Must be terrifying. Hoping everyone is safe...x #hugginshill</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/johgriggs7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Johanna Griggs</a> (@johgriggs7) on Dec 5, 2019 at 11:25pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Griggs also thanked the NSW RFS for their hard work, with over 2,200 personnel fighting the blazes across the state.</p> <p>“We are so grateful to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/nswrfs/" target="_blank">@nswrfs</a> and other emergency services for everything they have done, and continue to do. And we’re so sorry for everyone who has had a horrible time during this period. Our hearts break for you and for all the wildlife lost in these horrible fires. It’ll be a long hot summer for sure for all. We hope everyone stays safe.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

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