Monday, February 20, 2017

Land of extremes

I've often said that Australia is a land of extremes and we've sure seen that this last few days in New South Wales.

February's our most humid month and on top of that we've had temperatures up in the high thirties Celsius, and in the west of Sydney up to 46C...and more.

The hot weather was here for days, inevitably bringing bushfires. One down near the ACT destroyed fifteen homes and over 3,000 hectares were burnt.

People were evacuated and thankfully no lives were lost.

Well, no human lives but the animals weren't as lucky.

This photo from the Sydney Morning Herald shows kangaroos desperately trying to get away from the flames.

Then suddenly we had three days of storms, temperature dropped way down into the very low twenties and many suburbs were lashed by hailstorms.

People posted photos on Twitter and Facebook and the size of the hailstones was amazing. This was posted on Twitter by Kaija Ross:

It was a cold night but today the temp is up at 28C, clear blue sky and you'd think the storm didn't happen!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Could have been worse

The heatwave has moved north - Queensland's getting it now - but it's left its mark on NSW with huge areas burnt in over eighty bushfires.

It seems around twenty homes have been lost, with the tiny village of Uarbry all but totally destroyed according to early reports.  Called the Sir Ivan Fire, it had burned over 40,000 hectares by this morning and isn't yet contained. No wonder, the RFS estimates the active fire edge around the blaze as 200 kilometres

People there have lost everything, fleeing in a hurry as the fire tore down on them with just the clothes they were wearing.

The ABC reports farmer Warren Jarvis telling them that his house was "totally gone" when a fire raced over the hill near his property near Cassilis and went "mad".

"My house and all my property is totally gone. Three greyhounds, other cats, all my chooks, probably my sheep and cattle," he said.

Thankfully no-one was killed, but not so lucky for the animals, native and farm stock, and pets. Two firefighters and one civilian have been injured, an amazingly low number considering the extent of the fires,

Saturday, February 11, 2017

We have weather

Much of eastern Australia is in the grip of a heatwave, and we've certainly got that in New South Wales.

Sydney Airport yesterday was over 47C, it was 41C here on the coast. Today is a degree or two cooler but there are dire warnings for tomorrow.

The Rural Fire Service Commissioner has just said that tomorrow's weather will be 'as bad as it gets, the worst possible conditions'' for bushfires. Winds ahead of a southerly change plus high temperatures, low humidity and a huge amount of fuel because of the record winter rainfall have created the conditions.

This afternoon there are 49 bush or grass fires burning across NSW, 17 of which were not contained, according to the RFS.

The official warning level for tomorrow ranges from 'severe' in many areas to  'catastrophic' over a large area from the far west to the coast.and he warns that firefighters may simply be overwhelmed.

In catastrophic conditions he says that grass fires move at 30kph, in bush they move at 10kph, and spot fires can start kilometres ahead of the main fire front.

So he's told everyone to be on high alert and not to delay in evacuating if a fire starts.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Preventable tragedy

Right in the heart of Melbourne, five people killed and many more seriously injured by a maniac who deliberately mowed them down by driving at high speed along the footpath.

Two children, one a tiny baby, are among the dead and more are in critical condition.

The driver was Dimitrious Gargasoulas, apparently very well-known to police for a string of family violence  assaults and who suffers mental health and drug-related issues.

He was also out on bail for a string of offences, with outstanding warrants for over twenty charges.
They include a charge for breaching bail by failing to appear at court in April and charges relating to a near-deadly police pursuit in November.

He was facing a string of charges for dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police, smashing a taxi windscreen and the theft of three motor vehicles and an EFTPOS machine. Charge sheets tendered to the court allege that, on November 19, he was involved in a police pursuit down the wrong side of St Kilda Rd in Melbourne.
A well-known, highly dangerous proven serial criminal who should have been in jail, or a secure mental health facility, long ago was allowed to stay in the community where he was then allowed to commit this mass murder.
So he wasn't the only one responsible for the carnage in Bourke Street.
How about the person who let him out on bail in spite of police objections.
How about the police who tailed him on his way to Melbourne but failed to stop him.
According to the police union secretary, Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles, there were several occasions where police believed they could have safely intercepted and arrested him, but were told not to by their superiors. So how about their responsibility for the carnage their inaction cost.
Just before he committed the murders he was doing burn-outs, screaming at people around him. Police were there too, but only two seventeen year old civilians  tried to stop him.
Once again we've been disastrously let down by those with the power to prevent these tragedies happening.
There has to be an investigation into the whole debacle and those responsible have to be held to account.
                               The maniac doing burn-outs in the centre of the city.

TV shots of two civilian teenagers trying to stop him.

                                                          The saddest photo of all

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bushfire weather

We've had a run of several days very warm to hot weather, and it's going to stay around for a few more days yet apparently.

Last night it was still 30C at midnight and didn't get below 28C, then was back at 30C at 6am. We had 40C today here on the coast and it was a few degrees higher inland.

There's been a strong gusty wind too, so inevitably we have bushfires.

The Rural Fire Service lists 42 fires, six of them major and three are at Emergency warning level.

One near Canberra has already destroyed one home and killed a lot of livestock. Most of the cattle were moved but sheep seem to have been badly hit.

In the Hunter Valley, just north of us here, there's an out-of-control fire near Cessnock, at Kurri Kurri.

I'm keeping up-to-date with it on Twitter and it's saying that the hospital has been evacuated. This has just been posted too:

Fire & Rescue NSW
@FRNSW crews protecting approx 60 ppl sheltering at Kurri Kurri TAFE. Bushfire impacting on campus. Everyone safe.

ABC news is reporting property losses in the Kurri Kurri fire and property in danger near Canberra.

Fire crews from Sydney and the Central Coast are on their way to help.

The wind seems to be easing off though, and a mild southerly change is on the way so hopefully they'll be able to get on top of the situation.

These photos are from Twitter of the Kurri Kurri fire:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

We're being serially ripped off

After a couple of weeks of wriggling, denying, claiming it was all within the rules, Health Minister Sussan Ley has finally yielded to increasing public pressure over her rorting of the system and resigned. But only resigned from the front bench, not from parliament, which would have been the appropriate thing to do.

The longer she left it the more damaging information came to light, showing her using taxpayer money for what were obviously private expenses.

For example, to keep her pilot's licence she has to fly three times every ninety days, Conveniently, she felt she had to fly a charter plane this often because commercial flights, of which there were many, were inconvenient.

She charged us for over twenty trips to the Gold Coast, where here partner has a business and where she has viewed and bought investment properties.

And so it went on.

It was all so obviously wrong that the Prime Minister should have removed her immediately, and pressured her to resign from parliament.

But a by-election would risk losing the seat, so bad for the government are the opinion polls, and he only has 76 seats with 74 against him. So instead of doing the right thing, and gaining some respect from the electorate, he did the politically expedient thing - nothing.

The whole thing went on so long that the media started digging into other MPs expense claims - or entitlements as they refer to them.

To no-ones' surprise, a whole swag of them have been dipping into the public purse for things which have no benefit to the electorate - attending weddings, New Year's Eve parties, polo matches and the like.

They claim that as they talk to people at these places it's therefore government business.

Typical of their lies was Steve Ciobo claiming that his taxpayer funded junket to the AFL Grand Final in 2013 was because he was Trade Minister. Social media was quick to point out that he didn't become Trade Minister until 2016.

The public isn't going to let this die down now the genie's out of the bottle

Monday, January 09, 2017

You couldn't make it up

After days of outrage at her stealing from the taxpayers, health Minister Sussan Ley has finally stood aside.

Not resigned or been fired as the situation demands, but standing aside while there's an investigation into her expenses. Investigation by the government, by the way.

This comes after she tried to hide her false expense claims, claimed she bought an $800,000 apartment 'on a whim', then apologised for misusing taxpayers money and said she'd pay it back.

Endless denials and wriggling as more and more fraudulent expense claims were revealed.

The latest is that since 2013, she's flown in and out of the Gold Coast 27 times and had 37 nights’ accommodation, all taxpayer-funded.

Two trips she claimed over New Year’s Eve in 2013 and 2014 were “at the invitation of a prominent Queensland businesswoman” to discuss the Coalition’s agenda for education and training.

She said the 2013 trip was “for a business lunch” and the 2014 trip was to attend the businesswoman’s “annual New Year’s Eve event”.

She thought it appropriate to charge all this to us!

But even worse, the Prime Minister has temporarily replaced her as Health Minister with the very dodgy Arthur Sinodinos..

On his watch, illegal political donations were made to the Liberal Party, he refused to appear before a Senate committee investigating political donations and was subject to an ICAC investigation, in which the NSW anti-corruption watchdog found it “difficult to accept” he had no knowledge of the illegal funding.  Under questioning he used the amnesia defence - never remembering, not able to recall and so on.

He's been so publicly dodgy for so long that I have to wonder how and why he stays in senior position.  It's an obvious conclusion that he has so much dirt on others that they daren't upset him.

It shows the ultimate very public contempt for the electorate that the PM would not only not fire Ley but would then foist a man like Sinodinos on us.