Australian News

Canberra weather: Chance of thunderstorm on New Year’s Eve amid total fire ban

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There is a chance of a thunderstorm in Canberra on Tuesday amid hot and dry conditions and a severe fire danger rating for the territory. Emergency services are preparing for the risk of dry lightning and the possibility of winds up to 60 to 80 kilometres an hour with little respite overnight. It comes as Canberra is line to register its hottest December since records began. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a top of 38 degrees for Canberra on New Year’s Eve, with a possible storm in the afternoon. Strong north westerly winds could also impact the nation’s capital. “It’s quite a broad region that we have thunderstorm activity … but it’s covering the whole of the ACT,” bureau meteorologist Helen Reid said. “You’ll notice the winds even more [on Tuesday], temperatures are looking quite hot and that’s ahead of a cold front that’s moving through the southern part of the state. That’s not likely to effect Canberra until later in the day, however, with that is expected to be more chance of a thunderstorm.” There is only a 30 per cent chance of any rainfall in Canberra on Tuesday. A total fire ban is in place for Canberra until 6am on Wednesday. It forced the cancellation of Canberra’s New Year’s Eve fireworks. A severe fire danger rating is in place for Tuesday. It is very high for Wednesday and Thursday. Emergency Services Commissioner Georgeina Whelan warned the fire danger rating could move from severe to extreme, due to constant high temperatures and the severe weather warning from the Bureau of Meteorology. Commissioner Whelan said grass in the ACT was at 100 per cent curing as a result of the extended drought period, meaning it would burn easily and quickly if ignited. Winds and smoke haze have also threatened the cancellation of other New Year’s Eve activities in nation’s capital. The hot weather and lack of rain is expected to continue, Ms Whelan said. “We will be lucky to get the odd day where there will be respite,” she said. “But what I can say is when we recover from this three-day period, we can expect to see very high fire dangers and increasing temperatures right through the January period but we’re not expecting any rain, rain, decent rain to February.” Despite the extended period of fire danger, Ms Whelan did not join calls from interstate to compensate volunteer firefighters. “Within the ACT, we’re a very small jurisdiction but we are very, very privileged to have fantastic volunteers both in the rural fire services and right across our Emergency Services Agency,” she said. “Our volunteers are that – volunteers. What they do require is support, is respect and very good conditions. Within the ACT we are very privileged. We are one of the best equipped emergency services agencies in the country.” READ MORE: The workloads of volunteers and staff were being closely managed to ensure they could serve when needed. “Obviously as the season is extending, we will continue to monitor the amount of work that our volunteers are undertaking,” Ms Whelan said. “I’ve been very careful to balance the fatigue levels and the availability of our staff. We’re very lucky a number of our staff have very generous employers, particularly obviously the Commonwealth government, ACT government have generous volunteer leave, as does a number of our employers. “So we’ll continue to monitor the situation and obviously work very closely with government on any decision in the coming months.” Smoke haze is predicted to be persistent and Ms Reid said it could be worse on New Year’s Day. “I would expect smoke haze to get worse on Wednesday with that cold front moving through on Tuesday. When that has gone through and crossed over the south east of the country, it will bring an easterly flow … that will bring in smoke from fires that are to the east of the ACT,” Ms Reid said. On Monday the three air quality stations in Canberra had hazardous air quality index ratings. Data from ACT Health showed the average air quality index for December was well above the standard. Since 2012, the average air quality rating for the ACT was 30.4, which is considered to be “very good”. The average for December 2019 is 286, anything above 200 is considered to be hazardous. Heatwave conditions are expected to continue into the week and the temperature is forecast to reach 40 degrees on Friday and 41 degrees on Saturday. Canberra is also set to have had its hottest December on record. According to Weatherzone, the average daily temperature so far has been 31.2 degrees for Canberra in December. This is 5 degrees above average. The previous hottest December was in 1972, when there was an average temperature of 29.7 degrees.

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Local News - Victoria

Sydney New Years Eve fireworks cancelled? Start time, trains, public transport

Just one day out from New Year’s Eve, a growing online campaign is fighting to cancel all fireworks demonstrations across Australia.

A petition calling to “Say NO to FIREWORKS NYE 2019 – give the money to farmers and firefighters” has gathered more than 268,800 signatures from supporters, who don’t want to celebrate the start of 2020 with a fireworks display.

The deputy premier of NSW today expressed his support for shutting down the fireworks display, calling it a “very easy decision”. John Barilaro, the NSW leader of the Nationals, said cancelling the display was about a show of unity, as Australia worked through the ongoing bushfire and drought crisis.

“Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks should just be cancelled, very easy decision,” Barilaro wrote on Twitter.

“The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted RFS volunteers. If regional areas have had fireworks banned, then let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together.”

Many disagreed with the deputy’s comments, saying people were looking forward to the annual fireworks display. Others praised his comments.

His comments were supported by the popular petition, which has called for fireworks to be called off in all states around Australia this New Year’s Eve.

“All states should say NO to FIREWORKS,” the petition reads. “This may traumatise some people as there is enough smoke in the air.”

According to the petition, $5.8 million was spent in Sydney on its New Year’s Eve fireworks display last year.

The campaign proposes that the millions spent this year should instead be allocated to “farmers, firefighters and animal carers”.

But Sydney New Years Eve celebration organisers have dismissed suggestions that cancelling the pyrotechnic display would be beneficial to people affected by the ongoing bushfires crisis.

“We know that cancelling the fireworks will have zero practical benefit for those fire-ravaged communities,” Tanya Goldberg, the Sydney NYE head of audience told Today this morning.

“The one thing that will help those communities is to go ahead with the event and leverage the power of it to drive people to donate, to demonstrate their generosity by going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.”

“They can go to nye.Sydney/donate and we will be promoting that in the lead up, and that I can do.”

RELATED: ‘Inappropriate and insensitive’ – why it’s time to cancel Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks

When asked if there would be any kind of tribute to the tireless efforts of volunteer fireys during the show, Ms Goldberg said “no”.

“There will not be an overt tribute to the firefighters – (creative) plans were put in place months and months and months ago, but we are doing everything to throw our support behind them,” she said.

Despite the petition, Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, is expected to give the Sydney New Years Eve fireworks the go-ahead this afternoon, after days of debate and speculation.

He said crews will be working with the pyrotechnics companies, local authorities and government, and the decision will be based on weather and wind patterns on the day.

“We will be weighing up the risks this afternoon with more details on the forecast. I don’t envisage a cancellation of the fireworks on account of the total fire bans,” he said.

“Any perceived risk will be remediated.”

After receiving a firmed-up weather outlook midafternoon on Monday, the NSW RFS will make a final call on Sydney’s fireworks, but Commissioner Fitzsimmons said he’s “confident, unless something untoward comes out of the forecast”, the event will go ahead.

The NSW RFS is working with all parties to finalise exemptions on total fire ban for Sydney City Council, he said.

In many rural and regional areas, where the “risk is very different”, total fire ban exemptions haven’t been granted for local fireworks celebrations.


Those wanting to watch the fireworks displays can take advantage of the numerous vantage points scattered around the Sydney CBD and suburbs on New Year’s Eve.

At the Sydney Opera House and Bennelong Point, the 7000 person capacity was reached at 11am on New Year’s Eve last year, some 13 hours before the final fireworks display.

You should be aware if you’re going to brave the crowds, there are restrictions at Bennelong Point — there’s no glass allowed, no pets, no busking and you’re not allowed to camp there to try and save a position.

You can access Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay via trains, buses, ferries and the newly opened Sydney Metro.


Those using buses should be advised that thousands of extra services will be running throughout the night. Services will be altered as road closures will be in place on the night. Buses to Circular Quay will relocate to Martin Place to 2pm to 6pm. Buses to and from North Sydney will use alternate stops on Miller Street and Pacific Highway due to closures from 3pm to 3am.

All buses in the city will operate to and from temporary bus terminals in Hyde Park, Town Hall and Wynyard.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge will be closed from 11pm to 1.30am for the fireworks.

Signs will be available to guide you to your chosen vantage point to check out the fireworks.


Those using ferries are warned that services will be busy on New Year’s Eve, and to arrive early and “have a plan B”.

Ferries won’t stop at McMahons Point wharf after 10am. Ferries won’t stop at Milsons Point wharf after 3pm. At some wharves, the last ferries to the city leave around 4.15pm. Ferries won’t stop at Circular Quay after 5pm.

A harbour exclusion zone will be in place from 8pm until 12.45am. No ferries will operate during this time.

Limited ferries operate to the lower north shore and northern beaches after the midnight fireworks.

No ferries down the Parramatta River or to the eastern suburbs after the midnight fireworks.

Check last service details for the Sydney Fast Ferry, Manly Fast Ferry and Eco Hopper.


Extra train services will run on New Year’s Eve and into the early hours of the new year.

Some stations will have early closing times and different operating schedules due to crowding.

Trains won’t stop at Circular Quay from 5pm until midnight. Those wanting to access the Harbour Foreshore are advised to use Wynyard or Martin Place or St James stations.

From 6pm until midnight, trains from the city to the north shore won’t stop at Milsons Point due to large crowds. For access to lower north shore vantage points, exit the train at North Sydney and walk.

From 12.30am until 4.30am trains won’t stop at Domestic Airport and International Airport stations as Sydney Airport will be closed.


There are numerous 52 other vantage points where you can view the fireworks around Sydney, for a range of different prices. There are 33 vantage points that are available for access at no cost, and the remainder are ticketed at a range of prices, between $5.30 and $2200.

Vantage points are scattered all across Sydney, from Shelly Beach and North Head in Manly, to Elkington Park in Balmain in inner west Sydney, and the Rose Bay Foreshore in the eastern suburbs. A full list of official vantage points, including prices and detailed information is available at the Sydney New Years Eve site.

If you feel like splashing out, tickets to Cockatoo Island are available for between $400 – $2200. There is no BYO at the island, but you’re allowed to drink there.

There are also numerous vantage points where you can stake out a position for free.

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Australian News

Big Bash umpire Greg Davidson changes mind midway through LBW call in Adelaide Strikers win over Melbourne Renegades


December 30, 2019 09:39:49

Players and officials have laughed off one of the more bizarre umpiring incidents in Big Bash League history.

Key points:

  • Umpire Greg Davidson changed his mind halfway through an LBW decision on Melbourne Renegades batsman Beau Webster
  • The BBL does not use a review system, or ‘snicko’ to determine whether a batsman has got an inside edge in an LBW decision
  • Chasing 156, the Renegades lost three wickets — including skipper Aaron Finch — in an over as they lost by 18 runs

Umpire Greg Davidson caused a furore at Docklands on Sunday night when he appeared to change his mind midway through an LBW decision.

Adelaide Strikers spinner Rashid Khan thought he had trapped Melbourne Renegades batsman Beau Webster in front, and Davidson began raising his index finger.

But the umpire instead scratched his nose, sparking confusion among players and the 20,089-strong crowd.

Replays showed Rashid’s delivery would have hit the wicket, however, it was Davidson’s belief the batsman had nicked the ball.

“It was one of those things, heat of the moment,” Davidson told Channel 7.

“I started to think and then got a second noise through my head, so I decided to change the decision halfway through and gave it not out.”

Webster finished unbeaten on 36 as his Renegades suffered an 18-run defeat, their fourth in succession to start the new season.

Both teams were quick to move on after the match.

Strikers opener Phil Salt dismissed it as a simple human error.

“I saw his hand start to go up and I didn’t see the initial sort of moustache scratch,” Salt said.

“When that came up on the big screen, I just cracked up. It happens, doesn’t it? He’s only human … you can’t get all of them right.”

Renegades coach Michael Klinger couldn’t recall seeing a similar incident in professional cricket, but praised Davidson’s courage and quick thinking.

“To be honest, I like it,” Klinger said.

“I think he felt he made half a mistake and he thought that Beau hit it.

“I think it’s gutsy for him to change it halfway through, so I commend him for that.

“I actually think it’s the right call whether it happened for us or against.”

Slow outfield yields low scores

Davidson’s call wasn’t the only issue that caused a stir among fans on social media, many of whom were quick to point out the unusually slow Docklands outfield.

Despite a good pitch for batting in the middle, both sides made their lowest totals of the season from their allotted 20 overs.

The Strikers finished with 6-155, while the Renegades managed just 8-137 in response, losing three wickets — including skipper Aaron Finch — in one over.

“It was slow. They’ve obviously had different [events] on here … so there’s reasons why,” Klinger said.

“In previous years, when we’ve played here it hasn’t been this slow and there’s been higher scoring.

“It would be nice if it could be a bit quicker, but at the end of the day it’s the same for both teams, so it doesn’t cause a difference in the game.

“But it’s obviously a better spectacle if the outfield’s a bit quicker.”











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Australian News

All the big changes coming to Australia on January 1, 2020

The New Year is almost here.

But while many of us will be quietly nursing hangovers and enjoying a public holiday, the first day of the year is actually a busy time when it comes to big rule changes such as new laws and regulations, fees and charges and taxes and benefits.

Here’s what you need to know for January 1, 2020.


The Prime Minister’s $500 million First Home Loan Deposit Scheme – which was announced just before the May election – is due to be rolled out from January 1, meaning 10,000 eligible borrowers will be able to get their foot in the door earlier.

Buyers usually need a 20 per cent deposit to avoid paying mortgage insurance.

But under the Coalition’s scheme, participants would only need a 5 per cent deposit, with the Government guaranteeing the rest and covering the mortgage insurance under a special loan.

It will be limited to properties under $700,000 in Sydney, $600,000 in Melbourne and even less in other areas and to single Aussies with an annual income of up to $125,000 or $200,000 for couples.


From January 1, the Western Australian Government will scrap regular speed camera location updates from the WA Police Force.

Until now, the state’s police force provided motorists with information on where speed cameras were set up on a particular day, but in 2020, that tradition will end in a bid to catch speeding drivers.

Instead, it will provide a list of around 1800 locations around the state which may or may not have a camera in place – so don’t get stung.


According to the Herald Sun, energy companies are set to increase Victorian power prices from January 1.

The publication revealed major retailer Origin would lift prices on their discounted market offers by 7.7 per cent — costing the average user an extra $122, while Simply Energy bills will rise an average 10.7 per cent, or $159 a year.

The price hikes matches the 7.8 per cent rise outlined by the Essential Services Commission on Victoria’s new default power price, which was introduced in 2019 to help consumers by providing a competitive base offer.


People who lift the lid on dodgy practices will be better protected from New Year’s Day, with public companies, large proprietary companies and corporate trustees of APRA-regulated superannuation entities ordered to have a whistleblower policy in place from that date on.

That policy must include information about the legal protections available to whistleblowers and how a company will investigate claims and protect whistleblowers from harm.


The work test for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay is changing – and it could affect you if your child’s birth or adoption is on or after January 1, 2020.

You currently can’t have more than an eight-week gap between each work day in the work test period.

This will increase to 12 weeks if your child’s birth or adoption is on or after January 1, which means to meet the work test, the gap between each work day can be no more than 12 weeks.

There will also be a new Dangerous Jobs provision for Parental Leave Pay which will apply to you if your child’s date of birth is on or after January 1.


Sydneysiders will actually have to wait a little longer – until January 14 – before the controversial lockout laws are mostly abolished.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the laws would no longer be in place from that date, although they will remain active in the Kings Cross area.

The laws were introduced in 2014 with the aim of reducing the number of late night assaults in the CBD.

However, they have been heavily criticised for negatively impacting Sydney’s night-life.

A parliamentary report by the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night-time Economy in September advised the Coalition government to lift the laws in the CBD, saying they cost NSW $16 billion a year.


There’s good news for Aussies when it comes to accessing affordable medicine on the horizon.

From January 1, the threshold to receive free or further discounted medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme will be lowered by 12 scripts for pensioners and concession card holders and the equivalent of two scripts for non-concession card holders.


In the new year, federal government agencies will begin paying e-invoices on contracts valued at up to $1 million within five days – or face interest on any late payments – as long as both the supplier and agency use electronic invoicing.

According to finance minister Mathias Cormann, it will be a “game-changer” for small businesses with contracts with a federal government agency.


The ACT is on track to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy on January 1, 2020, which would make it the eighth jurisdiction in the world with a population above 100,000, to achieve this.

“States and territories are driving the transition to a renewable energy future, in the face of the federal government’s lack of leadership. As a result, several states and territories have declared the intention to go it alone on renewable energy policy,” Climate Councillor and energy expert Greg Bourne said earlier this year.


Eligible people with multiple employers will be able to apply to opt out of receiving super guarantee (SG) from some of their employers.

This will help you avoid unintentionally going over the concessional contributions cap.


In the New Year, a new star rating system of childcare centres in NSW will be rolled out.

Centres across the state must display a sticker near their front entrance which clearly shows how many stars it received after being examined.

The system ranks centres based on whether they are exceeding the national standard, meeting it, working towards it or if significant improvement is necessary.


Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has revealed changes to postcode zones for solar power system installations.

It is believed these changes will affect the amount of subsidy on offer to certain regions, although the majority of postcodes will not be affected.

To find out if it applies to you, visit the AEMO website.


The NSW Government has committed to 70,000 fee-free traineeships, meaning that from New Year’s Day, the state government will pay the student fees for lucky new trainees.

In a nutshell, eligible trainees undertaking a government-funded traineeship course on or after January 1 2020 no longer face a student fee of up to $1000.

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It has been the decade of the billionaire victim

The Great Recession was supposed to embarrass the wealthy into slinking away embarrassed, grateful they didn’t land in jail or worse. “There’s an angry mob with pitchforks assembling, and they want to see some heads on pikes,” Fortune opined in 2009. But as the stock and real estate markets recovered, so did the self-regard of the most moneyed among us. Shame? That was so Dow 7,550. It’s now over 28,000.

The Trump administration boasts the wealthiest presidential Cabinet ever assembled.

The Trump administration boasts the wealthiest presidential Cabinet ever assembled.Credit:AP

Schwarzman has many a compatriot. Elite gatherings such as the Milken Institute’s Global Conference and the annual World Economic Forum in Davos have become all but encounter sessions for misunderstood multimillionaires and billionaires to agree with one another in the face of calls that they pay their fair share. There’s private equity mogul Leon Cooperman, who actually began to cry on CNBC when complaining about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax on fortunes in excess of $US50 million ($72 million). “I don’t need Elizabeth Warren telling me that I’m a deadbeat and that billionaires are deadbeats,” he said.

The rich victims are all around us. Craig Hall, the real-estate tycoon owner of the now infamous ostentatious Northern California wine cave where Pete Buttigieg held a high-dollar fundraiser? He told The New York Times about the criticisms, “It’s just not fair.” Jacqueline Sackler, wife of a Purdue Pharma heir, the company in part responsible for the opioid epidemic that’s taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans? The Wall Street Journal got a hold of an email in which she complained of what she calls the “situation” is “destroying” the family’s reputation, and “dooms” her children.

And no one is more practiced at the art of billionaire self-pity than our president. He’s the victim of a Democratic “witch hunt.” Impeachment? “More due process was accorded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.” Yet he signed into law a tax plan so favourable to billionaires in general, and real-estate interests in particular, it might as well have been tailored precisely for him.

But according to Republicans, the obscene gains of the wealthy aren’t the problem. In 2012, GOP presidential nominee and multimillionaire Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of big-money donors, referred to 47 per cent of Americans who didn’t pay federal taxes and needed government benefits to get by as “takers,” adding, they believe “they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name it.” (Entitled to food! Imagine that.)


The Trump administration, which boasts the wealthiest presidential Cabinet ever assembled, has spent almost three years attempting to make it harder for people to receive Medicaid, food assistance and even a free lunch at school. They are aided by self-appointed watchdogs, too, such as Minnesota retiree Rob Undersander, who outed himself as a millionaire so he could publicise the supposedly pressing issue of people who have six- and seven-figure net worth receiving food stamps because their income is below eligibility thresholds. (In fact, survey research shows such households account for about 3 per cent of households receiving assistance via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Meanwhile, of course, the wealthy make out. Studies show, not surprisingly, that their opinions carry much more weight with politicians than those of more ordinary voters. But the claim of victimisation is one way they seek to protect themselves from some popular anger and the financial consequences they might otherwise face, ensuring their power, wealth and privilege remains intact while they can continue to promote their self-perceived unique virtue and smarts. Here’s one telling example: Despite Trump’s campaign promises, the carried interest loophole remains a part of the federal tax code. Steve Schwarzman, your infamy was not in vain.

The Washington Post

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Local News - Victoria

Extreme fire danger as temperatures set to hit 40 degrees

Three out-of-control bushfires are burning in East Gippsland, all menacing townships. Firefighters are worried today’s heat and squally winds could push them into populated areas.

The first fire started at West Side Barmouth Spur and has now burned through 83652 ha. An emergency warning is current for that fire, taking in the townships of Brookville, Dogtown, Double Bridges, Ensay, Holstons, Nunniong, Reedy Flat, Stirling, Tambo Crossing, Timbarra, and Wattle Circle.

The West Side Barmouth Spur fire, left, and the Goongerah fire, right.

The West Side Barmouth Spur fire, left, and the Goongerah fire, right. Credit: Emergency Management Victoria

A second, smaller fire burning about 28km west of Goongerah led to an evacuation order for that area Sunday morning.

A third fire at Wingan River in the state’s far east is also burning. The ABC are reporting it has spread significantly overnight – all the way up to the coast.

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Australian News

Catastrophic bushfire conditions, thunderstorms and severe weather forecast in parts of SA


December 30, 2019 08:25:02

South Australia will today face another testing day of weather extremes with temperatures in the mid-40s in many parts, coupled with winds of up to 55 kilometres an hour later today.

Key points:

  • Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-40s in many regions across the state today
  • A watch and act message has been issued for a fire at Gosse, on Kangaroo Island
  • The CFS says extra crews will be called in today to combat any bushfire outbreaks

Catastrophic fire danger ratings have been declared for the Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges and Yorke Peninsula, with severe to extreme fire danger ratings for all other districts.

A severe thunderstorm warning was also issued for parts of the state, with damaging winds forecast for the Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and Mount Lofty Ranges.

However, the severe thunderstorm warning has since been cancelled for those districts.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has forecast damaging wind gusts in excess of 90kph in Maitland, Kingscote, Victor Harbor, Ardrossan and Warooka.

It said a wind gust of 100kph had been observed at Port Lincoln about 3:30am.

Temperatures in the mid-40s are expected in most of the north of the state today while Adelaide is tipped to reach 40 degrees Celsius.

The BOM warned today’s extreme weather was expected to be similar to the catastrophic conditions that started fires in the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and the south-east over the past fortnight.

BOM meteorologist John Fisher said thunderstorms were aslo expected to increase the fire danger.

“We are expecting broad areas of thunderstorm development, quite gusty thunderstorm development across the state generally and ahead of that front, so not good conditions,” he said.

“It is a high-end, fire-weather day and does have many similarities to the conditions we saw back on Friday the 20th of December.”

Mr Fisher said a cool afternoon change would bring some much-needed relief from the heat, but it may also bring dry lightning strikes.

“So the front which will finally bring an end to our heatwave will move through western parts of the state during the morning,” he said.

“Adelaide and the Mount Lofty Ranges will probably see those cooler conditions from around 1:00pm to 3:00pm, then we’ll see that front move through eastern districts during the afternoon and evening.”

‘Risk today that more fires could start’

This morning, BOM forecaster Matt Bass said the minimum temperature in Adelaide overnight was 27.2C and storms had moved across the state already.

“We have seen quite a few storms already out over the west of the state, across Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island and a couple over the Yorke Peninsula,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“There is a chance of seeing a thunderstorm, more likely this morning or early this afternoon in Adelaide.”

He said fires had already started in parts of the state, including Kangaroo Island.

“Those storms have started a couple of fires already over on Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island,” he said.

“There is a risk today with lightning around that more fires could start.

“Be aware, particularly of the dry lightning potential as that comes through, and the wind change.”

‘Potential for hotspot breakout is incredible’

The Country Fire Service (CFS) warned those in bushfire-prone areas to remain vigilant and make decisions early about staying or leaving their property.

CFS chief Mark Jones yesterday said extra crews had been called in to help combat any outbreaks that flare up in the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island fires, which have been burning since December 20.

“In such hot weather and strong winds that back up and go in various directions, the potential for hotspot breakout is incredible,” he said.

The CFS this morning issued a watch and act message for a bushfire burning at Gosse, on Kangaroo Island.

It said the fire was burning uncontrolled and in a south-easterly direction near the West End Highway, Playford Highway Hanson Bay, Cape Bouger, Kelly Hill, Karata and South Coast Rd.

Regional areas across the state likely to be the hottest include Oodnadatta, which is tipped to peak at 46C, also with a possible storm.

Coober Pedy is tipped to reach 45C, as is Roxby Downs, Tarcoola and Woomera, while Port Pirie and Port Augusta, in the mid north of the state, are also tipped to reach 45C.

















First posted

December 30, 2019 07:21:04

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Local News - Victoria

Anthony Clark life support to be turned off

A brutal Christmas bashing that has left a 50-year-old grandfather brain dead was sparked by a neighbourhood dispute over fireworks, it has been revealed.

Anthony Clark, 50, is in hospital after he was beaten senseless by a gang of youths wielding baseball bats on Christmas Day outside his Mooroolbark home in Melbourne’s east.

His family say they expect his life support to be turned off today.

Now, his devastated stepdaughter Jess Clark has revealed what kicked off the violent altercation just before 11pm on Wednesday.

“Fifteen guys rocked up here and … he just really didn’t have a chance,” Ms Clark told 9 News outside the Esther Crescent home yesterday.

“They knocked my mum out right here on the driveway straight away.

“They had bats, they smashed my car and then they just threw my mum around like a ragdoll, they hit me.

“They were yelling because a firework went off and their dog was barking — so now my dad’s dead because their dog was barking.

“Four of them went my dad at once and one of them was just stomping him.”

Ms Clark said the loss of her stepfather was particularly difficult for her daughter.

“My daughter’s lost her everything now. She just wants her poppy to come home and he’s never going to come home,” she said through tears.

“My mum’s worried about everyone; she’s just lying there with him praying, but … he’s pretty much gone. That’s it.”

The victim’s brother-in-law said the grandfather and other family members were outside the home when they were attacked.

“They knocked my sister out, and had my niece, from what I understand, by the hair,” he told 3AW.

“He’s in intensive care. He’s brain dead. It’s heartbreaking.”

A 50-year-old woman was also taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

An 18-year-old man from Mooroolbark was arrested at the scene but released.

Up to eight people may have been involved in the fight, but so far it is only members of Mr Clark’s family who have been arrested.

Jess, her brother and their partners have been charged with affray after a dispute in the street on Friday afternoon, according to the Herald Sun.

Each will appear at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court on May 25.

— with AAP

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Australian News

James Pattinson creates hometown joy in Melbourne as Peter Siddle departs


December 29, 2019 21:09:57

There aren’t many sights more frightening than James Pattinson running into bowl. And I’m only talking about the view from the grandstand — not the middle. Anything so big that moves so fast conveys a sense of threat.

Here is the living embodiment of the large adult son, an online concept custom-built for this Australian fast bowler of childlike enthusiasm and impossible bulk.

Not to say he’s anything but muscle. There are no soft rounds to this silhouette. It’s just that his body somehow contains more human flesh within its limits than physics would deem possible.

We often speak about somebody having a different person inside them trying to get out. In Pattinson’s case, this appears to be literal.

Then the physical anomaly gets moving. The word bustling might first have been applied to fast bowlers in anticipation of this perfect use.

Pattinson sprints at the crease like it stole his wallet. He multiplies momentum like an avalanche.

That momentum breaks on the valley floor. And from within this bundling, bunching surge of energy emerges the ball at pace — rocketing forward at its target.

It isn’t just Pattinson’s body behind this pace. It’s the decisions he has made about how to use his body.

It’s a body that has broken down so many times, and a man at 29 years old choosing to hold back nothing, to go full tilt and hope that it has finally come good.

This was the Pattinson that hit New Zealand’s second innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The drop-in pitch absorbs velocity. Tom Latham had batted four obdurate hours in the first innings.

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are the engine and wheels of New Zealand’s batting.

Pattinson crashed through all three.

A bit lucky, was his self-deprecating assessment. Which was nonsense.

Pace forced all three errors. A full wide ball drew Latham’s drive, but it was through the left-hander’s shot early and drew his edge.

Williamson couldn’t edge a ball that similarly carved through the air and hit his pad. Taylor was thoroughly beaten on the cut, chopping onto his stumps.

After Pattinson’s spell, the match was only ever going one way.

A dozen overs down, a million runs behind, two days left to bat, three wickets lost for 35.

Watching a Boxing Day Test be defined by the Victorian quick felt like something of a Christmas miracle.

For years, Pattinson has been a presence in Australian cricket through his absence.

The litany of injuries, the constant waiting. A player who was only ever a possible future, not a concrete present.

Then in recent times, the phantoms have started to cohere.

Fit and ready for a full Sheffield Shield season, some county matches, a whole Ashes tour.

Ready and waiting as the Australian summer started, then stepping up for his hometown match as if Josh Hazlewood’s hamstring had been twanged by fate itself.

Even then, Pattinson could have cost himself the chance with a homophobic insult to a state opponent in November.

The act was poor, but his response was heartening; immediately apologising to those around him on the field, then publishing a genuine apology rather than an “if you were offended” cop-out.

Even in Pattinson’s generation, such slurs were a sadly routine part of growing up.

His response as an adult reflects a welcome social shift that they are no longer acceptable.

Had he not been contrite, it would have been hard to argue that he should represent his country.

Instead, Pattinson was there to show his exuberance on the biggest stage of all.

He had only twice been able to play in a Melbourne Test: his debut season of 2011 when India’s fading stars made their valedictory tour, then four years later against the West Indies.

Another four-year wait followed before this third chance arrived.

There was a joy to seeing it fully grasped. For those who love watching, and hopefully for the player, the pangs of all those lost years and lost matches felt a little less sharp.

And it was fitting that a hometown kid could thrill a crowd at the MCG, given that another fine Victorian player chose that day to announce his retirement.

There was an obvious passing of the baton from Peter Siddle to Pattinson: the senior bowler told his younger teammate about his decision before anyone else and described him as a little brother.

Siddle is one of those players who will be rightly admired, not just for his skill but for his personality and work ethic.

A tally of 221 Test wickets is impressive, but more so is the way that he carried the team early in the decade through some of its toughest times on the field.

When the bowling was thin, Siddle worked harder than ever, and when the bowling was excellent Siddle showed that he could match that standard.

Pattinson is a very different style to the long-spell specialist that Siddle became, beaming on the boundary line after every long day in the field.

Siddle’s lean frame is the counterpoint to Pattinson’s mass.

But in wholeheartedness and enthusiasm they are a spiritual match.

If body and soul hold together, Victorians might have one of their own steaming in for a few Boxing Days to come.







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Australian News

Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd planning wedding to lover he met on the run

A man jailed over the speedboat death of his Tinder date is now planning his wedding from behind bars, his Georgian lover has revealed.

Former web developer Jack Shepherd – jailed over the death of Tinder date Charlotte Brown – wooed Maiko Tchanturidze, 25, while on the run in her home country, The Sunreported.

Miss Tchanturidze told the Sunday Mirror that she’s “waiting” for Shepherd – even though he’s still married to the partner he wed just months after Charlotte’s death.

“I am going to wait for him. I just hope he will be released as soon as possible,” she said.

“We have spoken about marriage and having children. We will see what the future will bring for us.”

Shepherd, 31, was jailed for six years over the death of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown, who was thrown from his boat during a trip along the River Thames in December 2015.

It was said to have been a champagne-fuelled first date with Shepherd, who managed to get to safety when the boat crashed.

Charlotte was pulled from the water unconscious and unresponsive after being thrown from the boat.

A post-mortem examination found she died from cold water immersion.

Shepherd originally went on the run ahead of an Old Bailey trial and spent ten months in Georgia, from where he was later extradited.

Charlotte, 24, died on a first date with Shepherd during a boozy late night jaunt in the speedboat he bought to “pull women”.

The boat hit an object in the water and both were flipped into the icy River Thames.

Charlotte was pulled from the water unconscious and unresponsive and died later in hospital.

Shepherd later fled the country after being charged with manslaughter but was jailed for six years in his absence.

Ex-TV reporter Tchanturidze also told how she and Shepherd write to each other and recalled how the pair met in a park.

She said they plan to be together once Shepherd is released on licence – when they also hope to move to Georgia.

Tchanturidze, who still lives in Georgia, said: “Hopefully he will be released halfway through the sentence or earlier, fingers crossed.

“I’m not sure if he’ll be able to leave the country and may have to serve the second half of his sentence in the UK, so then I will have to move there.

“Most likely we will move to Georgia after that. We have plans of a decent future together.”

Jurors at Shepherd’s trial heard that he and Charlotte went on a late-night trip in his boat past the Houses of Parliament.

He handed the controls to Charlotte just before it struck a tree trunk and overturned.

Following his return from Georgia earlier this year, Shepherd appeared at the Old Bailey in April and was sentenced to an additional six months for breaching bail.

Shepherd’s UK case sparked outrage when The Sun revealed he won taxpayer-funded legal aid to appeal his conviction while on the run for ten months.

On January 23 he turned himself in to the Georgian authorities, but still maintained his innocence.

He claims Brown was driving at the time the speedboat crashed.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.

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