We spent a couple of days in rural Victoria last week.
A strong, not wind was blowing, it felt like a nor wester at home, but the fire danger was low. Pastures were green and lush with spring growth and dams were full.
But blackened trees showed where bush fires had raged and our hosts told us of days spent fire fighting as their farms and homes were threatened.
They were counting their blessings as they listened to news of fires further north.
A week later New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell has declared a state of emergency across the whole state as bush fires worsen.
Mass forced evacuations affecting tens of thousands of people are possible as hotter and drier than expected conditions combine with huge fire fronts already burning.
”This is not out of the realms of possibility,” NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. ”We are expecting the potential for the series of these fires to come together, to extend right down Bells Line of Road.
”They have the very real potential to go right out to the eastern end of the Hawkesbury, right down into the north-west area of Sydney including Richmond. . .
The Sydney Morning Herald has live updates.
The Labor Party has lost the love of the electorate after 16 years in power in New South Wales.
The victory of the Coalition led by Barry O’Farrell came with the biggest swing in Australian electoral history.
If there are lessons in the routing for New Zealand one of them is that every party in power has a best-by date. Another is this:
Mr O’Farrell told 400 supporters at Parramatta Leagues Club: ”We won tonight seats we never dreamed of winning. And I am determined that the government I lead will govern for all people.” . . .
. . . ”The Liberal Party was born to represent all people, not sectional interests.”
MMP makes it easier to promote sectional interests and gives them power far in excess of their support. But a government which panders to those interests to the detriment of the majority will be punished.
That is what happened to Labour here. In buying votes and and attempting to woo various small groups they lost support of the majority.
On August 21:
1770 James Cook formally claimed east Australia for Great Britain and called it New South Wales.
1920 Christopher Robin Milne, who inspired his father to write the Pooh Bear stories, was born.
The real stuffed toys owned by Christopher Robin Milne and featured in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
1958 Auckland became the first New Zealand city to introduce the Barnes Dance
, stopping all traffic to enable pedestrians to cross in all directions at once.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.
Phone calls to friends in Australia last night reinforced the tragic irony of toom little water in one area and too much in another.
A family in Victoria is waiting anxiously as fire, albeit slow burning, approaches one of their properties.
While other friends who farm in northern New South Wales are dealing with floods after several years battling the dry.
The ABC reports that these are drought breaking rains.
Further to the north and west in Bourke, authorities are tallying up the damage bill after three quarters of the towns annual rainfall came down in 15 hours on the weekend. This in a town that just recently saw an exodus of a fifth of its population because of the drought.
Our friends haven’t lost stock and are grateful the flooding round them is not nearly as bad as that in Quensland.
Thousands of kilometres away in Queensland, the towns of Normanton and Karumba have been cut off for six weeks and may have to tough it out for another month. Emergency services are ensuring people get the basics like food and medicine, but industries are struggling.
. . . In Karumba, businesses can’t get the goods they need to keep the local economy going and they’re warning job losses are on the way.
The local council estimates that stock losses may run to 100,000 and some graziers may have lost up to two years’ profits.
. . . Further up the river, people shifted 20,000 head out of the floodwaters and up onto higher ground. But then, a lot of that higher ground has gone underwater.
A politician has been forced to resign because he misled his leader – but it was in Australia not New Zealand
An Australian state premier says his police minister has quit his Cabinet post over revelations that he danced in his underwear at a parliamentary office party.
New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees told Fairfax Radio Network on Thursday that he demanded Matt Brown’s resignation Wednesday night because Brown had misled him about what had happened at the office party three months ago.
Rees says Brown initially claimed that nothing inappropriate had happened at the party but later admitted to stripping to his underwear.
It’s good to know there’s somewhere in the world where the truth is still valued, ethical standards are upheld and elected representatives are held to account for lying.