Bushfire backlash 'a kick in the backside the PM needed'
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - M E Times Int'l: A news report says that Scott Morrison's handling of the bushfire crisis has proved "surprising". “It’s kind of a prime minister’s office learning on the job which is a bit alarming”. The most recent figures have the Labor Party sitting at 51 per cent compared to the Coalition’s 49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is now also the preferred prime minister after Mr Morrison's approval rating plunged. “In terms of this Newspoll it’s not today that matters or the poll that matters, it’s what happens from here that matters,”
Immediate Mental Health Services Deployed Into Fire Affected Communities
Canberra: More mental health support services will be immediately provided to firefighters, emergency personnel, individuals and communities impacted by the ongoing bushfire disaster.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said an initial $76 million would fund free counselling sessions, extra Medicare and tele-health consultations, an expansion of headspace services for young Australians, and community recovery initiatives.
“These bushfires have been unprecedented in their scale, coverage and duration. They have caused tragic loss of life and physical damage, that have scarred our landscape. But as I have witnessed in connecting with people on the ground in fire affected communities, they have also taken a traumatic emotional toll on our people.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the funding was part of the Government’s comprehensive response to the bushfire crisis.
“I urge people to reach out, get the support they need and check in on loved ones,” Minister Hunt said.
Scott Morrison to call for bushfire royal commission
Canberra: Scott Morrison has called for a royal commission into Australia’s bushfire crisis as he seeks to defend the government’s response to the disaster. The prime minister said on Sunday the inquiry would not only look at how to better coordinate the response but also examine the impact of climate change. Mr Morrison will aim to take the proposal to cabinet this week.
Anthony Albanese calls for motion of condolence on Parliament's first sitting day
Canberra: Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has written to the prime minister urging him to put the unprecedented bushfire season on top of the agenda when Parliament resumes. The first sitting week is due to begin on February fourth, and Mr Albanese has said the only item on the agenda should be a “motion of condolence” to those affected by the ongoing bushfire disaster.
Rain brings fresh dangers for firies
Melbourne: It never rains but it flash floods.
While wet weather means relief for exhausted firefighters in Victoria's East Gippsland through Friday night, the reprieve could mean fresh complications.
"It sounds bizarre in this situation when you have fire ... the problem with the flash flooding is that given the scale of the burn that is out there, you see massive run-off," said Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville..
"But it's also exceptionally dangerous for our firefighters and emergency service workers ... in the past we've seen deaths."
Jonathan Howe from the Bureau Of Meteorology said there had been rain through Victoria and NSW.
But it was only around 5-10mm in most areas, well below what is needed to end the bushfire crisis.
It was also patchy, with 18mm near Bairnsdale but only 2mm at Mallacoota.
Mr Howe said bushfire damage added to the risk of flooding when the rain comes.
"With the little bit of rainfall, it can make access to the fire sites more difficult for firefighters - it is a bit of a double-edged sword," he said.
"Especially with some heavy rainfall, a lot of the trees are gone and so the ground just isn't able to soak up the excess (water).
Liberals-Nationals Ignore Massive Wildlife Crisis
Sydney: Labor is urging the Government to work with overstretched and fatigued animal welfare and rescue organisations to protect our native wildlife. The NSW Labor leader Jody MCKay and Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage Kate Washington said in media release.
While the full impact of bushfires won’t be known for months, it’s expected that the bushfires sweeping across NSW have:
• Wiped out an estimated 800 million animals
• Reduced our koala population by a quarter
• Destroyed thousands of bee-hives
• Potentially caused the extinction of the long-footed potoroo
NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay said: “Wildlife rescue volunteers are working around the clock, going into bush fire-affected areas and rescuing our native wildlife. But they aren’t doing it with help from government.”
“While the full extent of the harm to NSW’s precious wildlife won’t be known for months, Gladys Berejiklian should start working with key wildlife organisations to make a difference today.
Risks facing Australian economy in 2020
Canberra: The Australian economy posted its worst performance since the global financial crisis during 2019, hit by drought, weak consumer spending, sluggish business investment and a slowing global economy. As of the September quarter, annual growth was running at 1.7 per cent, well below the long-term trend at 2.75 per cent. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was forced to cut his 2019/20 growth forecast to 2.25 per cent. While economists are expecting a gradual grind higher during 2020, the recovery may not be fast enough to prevent unemployment rising.