Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Winds fan unprecedented spring bushfires

Wild winds and dry conditions have exacerbated Queensland’s worst start to a bushfire season on record, with at least 10 more homes destroyed and hundreds evacuated overnight. Unprecedented fires for early spring saw homes lost at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast, with locals fleeing to evacuation centres, and people in neighbouring areas told to prepare to leave. Officials said at least 47 homes across the state were either damaged or completely destroyed. A total of 87 fires are burning across the state, including in tracts of rainforest unaccustomed to bushfires, and a further 64 fires burn in New South Wales. The fires come ahead of thinktank The Australian Institute’s release on Tuesday of the annual Climate of the Nation survey. The study found a sharp nine-point increase in one year in the number of Australians who believe climate change is already causing more heatwaves and hot days, with 48 per cent agreeing with the statement. A total of 77 per cent of respondents agreed that climate change is happening.

Speaking of a growing problem: Suicide deaths are on track to rise 40 per cent in the next decade unless Australia does more to intervene earlier and prevent them, according to new research commissioned for World Suicide Prevention Day. Undertaken by KPMG on behalf of Suicide Prevention Australia, the study predicts an extra 1300 suicide deaths a year will occur by 2030 if the worsening rates of the last decade continue. It links suicide to issues such as mortgage debt and the gig economy. Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nieves Murray says the findings are a “major wakeup call” to look beyond traditional health care responses. The study comes as the Australian Government is being urged to set up mental health services to reduce suicides among international students studying in Australia. Lifeline 13 11 14.

On the subject of treating guests poorly: President Donald Trump has defended the refusal of entry to the United States of about 100 people, including children, aboard a ferry escaping the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. He claimed the Bahamas is full of “some very bad gang members”. The death toll from the Category 5 hurricane has officially risen to 45, but thousands remain missing and 70,000 people are in need of food and shelter.  

From the Bahamas to Brexit: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to suspend parliament for five weeks starting from today. In the final day of debate before the suspension, House of Commons speaker John Bercow announced he would retire, and the United Kingdom Parliament passed laws mandating publication of government communications related to the suspension, as well as documents pertaining to the UK government's no-deal contingency plan. The debate comes as a new law was granted royal assent on Monday that forces the prime minister to delay his plans to exit the European Union by October 31 unless a deal – or a no-deal exit – is approved by MPs by October 19. 

In sport: The Australian women’s cricket team has beaten the West Indies by 151 runs, thanks to Ellyse Perry’s innings of 112 and a record-equalling half-century from Ashleigh Gardner off just 23 balls. The win secures the three-game ODI series 2-0 for the visitors. 

Inside the Adani blockade
There is fresh momentum behind the Adani mine in central Queensland. What happens next could define Australia’s relationship to climate change both here and globally.


“In the 18 months prior to attacking Dixon, he showed an increased appetite for rape and strangulation porn as well as snuff films, in which a life is extinguished at the end. After killing Dixon, Todd stole her mobile phone, using it as a mirror to inspect the scratches she had left on his face. He slept at Royal Park train station, bought a pie and coffee from a convenience shop, before finally returning home. There in his bedroom, Todd accessed his iPad.”


“Just after 2am on October 20, 2018, police arrived at Melbourne’s Antique Bar and found a man thrashing beneath the weight of several others. Chairs and tables were toppled; a smashed bottle lay on the floor. Staff and patrons made way for the officers, who pulled Boursinos up and applied handcuffs. He quickly lost consciousness. In the years before his death, Boursinos had complained of a heart literally weakened by the malice of critics. Many who knew him thought cocaine a more obvious culprit. Police tried to revive him, then paramedics. But they couldn’t save him. The Godfather of Doof was dead. ‘They let him die like a dog on the floor,’ his mother told The Age.”


“The Tamil family spent four years residing in this small Queensland community, 120 kilometres south-west of Gladstone. Nades had taken up a not-very-sought-after job at the local meatworks, and both he and Priya contributed to Biloela society in myriad ways, forging deep and abiding bonds. According to our prime minister, ‘If you have a go, you get a go.’ As it turns out, this maxim doesn’t apply to everyone.”


“Gender equality among Australia's top chief executive ranks could be 80 years away, with the latest survey showing female appointments is going backwards and some companies have no women at all in their leadership teams. Of the 25 chief executives appointed to lead Australia's top 200 companies in 2019, only two were women, with the percentage of women in the top role slipping to six percent from seven percent a year earlier.”


“Although opportunities for women in policing have expanded over time, their overall numbers remain relatively low. Nationwide, about a third of all police personnel were women in 2017-18, but barriers remain to states achieving their goals of reaching 50-50 gender parity on police forces. Women are vastly underrepresented in senior roles, as well.”


“John was tasked with turning the choir’s complaints about work into song. ‘The initial session was for people to talk about their beef – their gripes with the jobs they have,’ John explains … Starting with sighs, the song soon soars into an angry crescendo of claps and stomps: they’re fed up with work and they’re not afraid to tell you.”


Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.