TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12
As fire conditions across NSW worsened by the minute today threatening highly populated areas around Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, equally under siege Queensland firefighters were boosted by the arrival of international fire crews and help from the Army.
Adding to the grim fire news, Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young issued a warning to residents in Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast to stay inside where possible today as air quality levels measured worse than Beijing because of smoke.
The NSW RFS commissioner said the fires up near the Queensland border were the focus of their efforts this morning, with an eye on the catastrophic areas – Sydney, Hunter, Illawarra – later on.
There are more than 50 fires burning across New South Wales, half of them uncontrolled
Twelve fires are at ‘watch and act’ level across Lismore, Clarence Valley, Armidale, Nambucca, Kempsey, Port Macquarie and the Mid Coast
In Queensland QFES has confirmed at least 11 homes have been lost in the state since Saturday with conditions expected to worsen today and no sign of improvement again until Thursday
Firefighters from New Zealand, as well as interstate crews from Tasmania and the Northern Territory, will assist in the firefighting effort as conditions are expected to worsen today and tomorrow.
QFES Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said there would be tough days ahead with the weather that’s causing severe conditions in the state’s south-east today set to extend up into central Queensland.
“We’ve got a couple of tough days and then we’re into another week really of weather that really doesn’t see any rainfall, and potential further erratic conditions again into the weekend.”
He praised the “huge collective and collaborative effort” of firefighters and volunteers.
“This is a marathon for us with several sprints. We’ve been at this since August when the fire season normally starts. We had a sprint in early September with fires, again in October and here we are in November again.
Anthony Sylvester from the Bungundarra Rural Fire Brigade has been working almost non-stop since 12:00pm Saturday, battling the Cobraball blaze near Yeppoon.
He said the crews are doing what they can, but are beginning to struggle with fatigue.
“Got a few hours sleep here and there … It was one of those things that got too big too quick, we couldn’t deal with what we had, didn’t matter what we threw at it,” Mr Sylvester said.
Boris Johnson’s reelection hopes got a major boost overnight with the leader of Britain’s Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, announcing his party will not contest 317 Conservative Party seats in the December 12 election but would contest nearly all other seats,
Farage said he did not want anti-Brexit parties to win the election so was standing down candidates in the seats won by the Conservatives in the 2017 election, news agencies reported..
“The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election,” Farage said, adding that he had made the decision overnight. A week ago, he promised to field 600 candidates.
Farage cast his move as a step that would prevent another EU referendum and make a hung parliament much less likely. He said Johnson was proposing a Brexit that sounded like the option that the British people had voted for in a referendum of EU membership three years ago.
“But what we will do is concentrate our total effort into all of the seats that are held by the Labour Party, who have completely broken their manifesto in 2017,” he said. “We will also take on the rest of the remainer parties.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the move meant Farage’s friend, US President Donald Trump, had got his wish – shared on a live radio interview with Farage – for an alliance between Farage and Johnson.
Farage said Trump would be “very, very pleased” to hear of the move, stemming from Johnson’s promise to go for a Canada-style trade deal with the EU.
“It is obviously good for the Conservatives mainly because we know the Brexit Party is mainly threatening the Conservative vote,” said Sara Hobolt, a professor who specialises in polling at the London School of Economics.
“Farage is sending a signal saying Boris Johnson represents the real Brexit vote and that could matter in the seats where he is standing,” Hobolt said.
The world moved to step closer to finding out how much tax US President Donald Trump has or has not paid after a federal judge on Monday dismissed his lawsuit against New York officials aimed at preventing the release of his tax returns.
Mr Trump’s lawsuit sought to block the possible application of a New York state law that could allow the Democratic-controlled House to obtain his tax returns
The lawsuit was a pre-emptive move, as the New York House officials have not requested Mr Trump’s tax returns
Judge Carl Nichols handed down a 19-page ruling, finding the US District Court in Washington, DC, did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Mr Trump sued New York’s Attorney-General, tax commissioner and the House and Ways Means Committee in July, seeking an injunction to block the application of a New York state law, known as the TRUST Act, that could allow the Democrat-controlled House to obtain the tax returns.
The House committee and its chairman, Representative Richard Neal, have not requested Mr Trump’s New York state tax returns.
But the lawsuit was filed pre-emptively, citing concerns that the panel could use the TRUST Act to try to procure Mr Trump’s state returns.
Mr Trump has refused to release his tax returns since he was a presidential candidate and is the only modern president to have not made that financial information public.
The TRUST Act, which was signed into law in July 2019, allows state officials to access the tax returns of certain government officials, including the President, if the tax returns are requested by a congressional tax committee and have been requested for a legitimate legislative purpose.
New York officials had argued that the court in Washington did not have appropriate jurisdiction in the case but agreed to delay acting on any congressional request for Mr Trump’s tax returns until there was a ruling on the jurisdictional issue.
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