Victoria facing worst ever fire season: John Brumby

Black Saturday bushfires.The CFA chief heavily criticised for his handling of Black Saturday will be responsible for keeping Victoria safe as it faces its worst-ever fire season, Premier John Brumby has said.Mr Brumby warned Victorians that 13 years of drought will make the coming fire season, less than 10 weeks away, potentially more dangerous than 2008-09 during which 173 people died.”On all of the latest information and evidence we’ve got, the forthcoming fire season is going to be worse than the one we’ve just experienced and that’s because of 13 years of dry conditions,” he told Radio 3AW.Mr Brumby said CFA chief officer Russell Rees would be at the helm despite the Bushfires Royal Commission’s interim report finding he failed to protect Victorians on February 7.”I though the worst thing for our state was to have major changes to the leadership of our fire organisation when the task we’ve got, I’ve got, the community’s got, the fire agencies have got, is to make our state as safe as possible in the run up to this fire season,” Mr Brumby said.The Premier defended Mr Rees and said he had done the best he could.He said this season Mr Rees’ role would be clearer than on Black Saturday when the commission said he had failed to take on an operational role. Mr Rees would be responsible for ensuring “that the state is kept safe”.Mr Brumby said the Government wanted to investigate further the commission’s recommendation that a single person based at a local incident control centre would be responsible for issue advice on whether people should relocate.”That is a big, big, big responsibility for someone to take and you want to make sure that you’ve got the right people there,” he said.In the lead-up to the summer, Mr Brumby said there would be more controlled burns and roadside burning for firebreaks.”The amount of fuel reduction burning that we did in the last year has been more than any time in the last 15 years,” he said.The commission is due to report on fuel reduction, for which it received the most submissions, next year.Mr Brumby is expected to outline about 50 locations at high risk of bushfires this season during a press conference to be held this morning.Mr Rees said the CFA was ready to change and welcomed the commission’s findings.The commission’s interim report handed down yesterday recommended an overhaul of the contentious stay-or-go policy that includes telling residents death is a possible consequence of not evacuating early.It has also empowered Mr Rees with irresponsibility for issuing public fire warnings.”The public needs to know that we are looking to the future – taking on board these messages, understanding what we have learnt,” he told the Nine Network today.He said other matters including vegetation, planning and community readiness had also become a focus for the fire service.Acknowledging that the Victorian community continued to hurt after the tragic fires that killed 173 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, Mr Rees stressed the CFA was now trying to move forward.Future improvements to warning information should include better websites, radio broadcasts and a national telephony system, Mr Rees said.He agreed with the report’s emphasis that the controversial stay-or-go policy needed refinement.”We are seeking to change so that the whole of the community is very clear,” Mr Rees said.”And part of that is issues of giving them the ability to personally look at their own situation – giving them advice, giving them the opportunity to make that hard decision.”Community education is one thing, community action … is very important to us.”But the issue of fuel loads require more community discussion, he said.”There has to be a debate about where we’re living, and how we’re living … information is only one part of this incredibly complex system of high-risk environment that we’re in in the state of Victoria and southeastern Australia.” theage南京夜网.au
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Broncos will provide a big test for the Dragons

Picture: ANDY ZAKELIThis Friday’s game in Wollongong against the Broncos is shaping up to be a bit of a litmus test for the Dragons.In last weekend’s loss to the Raiders in the bogey town of Canberra, the Dragons seemed out of sorts. They certainly weren’t the focused, clinical, unruffled side of recent weeks.The Canberra side – who always seem to play better when they’re out of the finals race – played a physical style of footy which at times seemed to rattle the Dragons. So much so that some pundits have now been saying other teams will adopt the Raiders’ template when they play the Dragons. Read more Try Hard blogs That’s a bit dim, given that the strategies the Raiders used were hardly revolutionary – other teams have been trying to use them for most of the season.It happened to work for the Raiders because they met an off-the-pace Dragons team and were able to keep up the intensity for the whole game.If either of those characteristics are missing, then these tactics just don’t work. Had the Dragons been on song (and not missing at least three regular first graders – everyone always forgets when the Dragons are missing players) the Raiders’ tactics simply wouldn’t have worked.Still, the Broncos will provide a big test for the Dragons. Firstly, they’re a team with a bit of confidence after scoring a bazillion second-half points against the Panthers. Secondly, it’ll let us see how easily the Dragons find their form after the loss in Canberra.A loss on its own isn’t a real indication of how a team’s travelling. In today’s game, it’s hard to be at peak intensity levels week after week, so it’s not surprising that a team may be a bit out of form for a game. A much better indicator is how they perform in the following weeks – do they lift their game and return to their previous levels? Or do they still show signs of struggling?If the Dragons shake off the loss with a strong and powerful performance against the Broncos it sends a clear message to the rest of the competition that they’re still a force to be reckoned with.And it’ll also make nervous fans like myself breathe a little easier.
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Nunamara nurse lived to write about POWs

WAR ORDEAL: Jessie Elizabeth Hookway with her war book.After the war, Jessie Elizabeth Hookway wrote a book on her experiences under her maiden name of Simons entitled In Japanese Hands.
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It included the cold-blooded murder of 21 nurses who were marched into the sea and shot.

Mrs Hookway grew up on a farm at Nunamara, then trained as a general nurse at the Launceston General Hospital.

By 1937, she had qualified as a theatre nurse.

Mrs Hookway was called up for active service in the Australian Army Nursing Service and went to Singapore as a member of 13th Australian General Hospital.

She landed in Singapore in September 1941.

Mrs Hookway worked as a senior theatre nurse at Johore Bahru before the hospital was moved to Singapore on January 25, 1942.

She was later to term the evacuation “a very bad mistake”.

Half the hospital’s staff left Singapore on February 12 and reached Australia.

Mrs Hookway remained as part of a corp of 65 nurses in Singapore.

Half the group tried to escape on a small ship, the Vyner Brooke, which was mined and then bombed and sank by the Japanese.

She found an oar, jumped into the sea and was picked up by some men in a raft.

She was taken prisoner of war after landing on Banka Island on February 15, 1942.

Mrs Hookway said that some who reached the shore in lifeboats were shot by the Japanese.

Thirty-two of the 65 nurses on the Vyner Brooke were taken prisoner, with 24 of them living to return to Australia.

Mrs Hookway said that food was scarce and no clothes or medicines were supplied.

In her book, Mrs Hookway recalled that when the war ended in August, 1945, Japanese soldiers had told her “now we can be friends”.

Mrs Hookway spent her later years on a Boat Harbour dairy farm run by her late husband Hayman Hookway.

A thanksgiving service for the life of Mrs Hookway will be held at Uniting Church, Dodgin St, Wynyard, tomorrow at midday.

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Rising body count chills Chinese community

Horrifying trend: Police cordon off the area (above left) where the body of a 27-year-old Chinese man was found in bushland off Mt Ousley Rd; police search at Pheasants Nest after the discovery of Ling Mao’s body (top right); and flowers at the scene of the Lin family murders in North Epping.
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Chinese Australians are horrified by the increasing number of brutal murders in their community, according to the editor of a Sydney-based Chinese newspaper.Sing Hao Daily editor Vincent Ho said the gruesome discovery of a 27-year-old Chinese national’s body in bushland off Mt Ousley Rd, and the shocking multiple murders of five members of the Lin family in Sydney’s north, were the talk of online message boards in Australia and Hong Kong and the lead stories in Australian Chinese newspapers.”It’s shocking and it feels like it is contagious – so many people dying of such violent deaths,” Mr Ho said.”The recent one looks like a kidnapping, but I can’t give any reasonable explanation for them.”Detectives from the NSW Asian Crime Squad are investigating the murder of the 27-year-old, who was reported missing on March 4.The man’s body, found by a colliery worker on Friday, was placed between two wooden boards, wrapped in vinyl and secured with duct tape.It followed the discovery of the dismembered body of Epping woman Ling Mao, 33, at Pheasants Nest on August 9 and the Lin family murders on July 18.Last November the bodies of two Chinese women, known only as “Jenny” and “Susan” were found with their throats slit in an Auburn flat.Epping’s Huan Sun, 34, has been charged with the murder of Ms Mao, but all the other murders remain a mystery.Meantime, Wei Chen, a 39-year-old businesswoman who disappeared from her Lidcombe home on July 15, remains missing.Mr Ho said he doubted Chinese gangs or mafia were involved or that the murders were linked.”The mafia have all gone, they were all deported,” Mr Ho said. “A few years back they attended a birthday party and all their guys turned up and were being photographed by the police, so they were all identified and deported.”But he said the drug trade and sex slavery were well organised.

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