WEDNESDAY DEC 2
The Queensland Government has ordered a full review of a bushfire that has burned a large swathe of the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island (K’gari).
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has directed the state’s Inspector General for Emergency Management, Alistair Dawson, to examine all aspects of the preparedness and response to the blaze.
The bushfire started burning in mid-October and is believed to have been sparked by an illegal campfire.
It has now burned through at least 80,000 hectares, or 50 per cent, of the island.
Residents and staff at Kingfisher Bay Resort and its neighbouring village have been told to prepare to leave as the fire travels from Boon Boon Creek south towards the resort.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said extensive waterbombing on Tuesday was effective in slowing the spread of the fire, and they will continue waterbombing throughout Wednesday.
In Parliament, Ms Palaszczuk said more than 1 million litres of water had been dumped on the flames.
“K’gari is beloved not just here but all around the world, which makes the sight of it’s burning so painful,” she said.
“It’s understandable those who love the island want to be assured that everything that could be done to protect it has and is being done.
“That’s why I can confirm that the Inspector General Emergency Management has been instructed to conduct a full review.
“There are extreme heatwave conditions today, predicted this week, and will further test our men and women on the frontline doing everything they can to contain this fire.”
A global alliance of parliamentarians have called on their compatriots to “stand against authoritarian bullying” as they launch a campaign to support Australian winemakers battered by Chinese trade tariffs, reports the ABC.
The ABC says in a short video released on Tuesday, a number of MPs from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) called on their citizens to ditch their national beverages this December in a bid to support the Australian wine industry.
IPAC represents more than 200 MPs from 19 countries who describe themselves as a “cross-party group of legislators working towards reform on how democratic countries approach China”.
In the video, Labor senator Kimberley Kitching said China’s recent behaviour amounted to an attempt to “bully” Australia into “abandoning its values”, while noting Beijing’s list of 14 grievances and suspension of a number of Australian exports.
“This isn’t just an attack on Australia. It’s an attack on free countries everywhere,” Senator Kitching said.
Later, Miriam Lexmann — a Slovakian member of the European Parliament — invited people to “stand against Xi Jinping’s authoritarian bullying”.
Swedish councillor Elisabet Lann implored people to “let the Chinese Communist Party know we will not be bullied” by drinking a “bottle or two of Australian wine”.
Australian wine has become one of the hardest-hit industries amid the fast-deteriorating bilateral relationship between China and Australia.
Last week, Beijing imposed devastating import taxes, ranging from 107 to 200 per cent, on all Australian wine.
The move followed the preliminary findings of a Chinese anti-dumping investigation, which claimed Australian winemakers were selling wine below the cost of production, and causing China’s winemakers “substantial harm”. The Australian Government has refuted the claim.
The wine tariffs came after China’s Commerce Ministry gave informal instructions to importers to suspend orders of wine and six other types of Australian exports earlier this month.
Australia’s wine production industry earned $7 billion of revenue in the past financial year, according to market research firm IBISWorld.
US Attorney-General William Barr says the Justice Department (DOJ) has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
His comments come despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to president-elect Joe Biden.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Mr Barr said US attorneys and FBI agents had been working to follow up specific complaints, but did not uncover evidence that would change the election outcome.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” he said.
Mr Barr has been one of the President’s closest allies.
Before the election, he repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in votes could be especially vulnerable to fraud due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Mr Barr issued a directive to US attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, before the election was certified.
The memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to not follow DOJ policy that normally prohibits those actions before an election is certified.
Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memorandum.
The Trump campaign team, led by Rudy Giuliani, has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system.
They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers did not have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations, and therefore something illegal must have happened.
The claims have been repeatedly dismissed, including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.
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