Bushfire aftermath: New expert to assist with mental health


The mental health challenges the Northern Rivers communities had faced in the aftermath of bushfires and floods has seen a new appointment made by the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program.

The RAMHP announced the appointment of its new co-ordinator Alex Grantham, who will be working across the Northern NSW Local Health District.

Ms Grantham has lived and worked in Northern Rivers of NSW for over 10 years, and brings to the role experience in regional development, training and assessment and community development.

With a social work background, Ms Grantham said she has a real passion for community capacity building and mental health promotion to the RAMHP role.

“I believe my experience in grant writing, community services management and mental health

research will be of particular benefit to this role,” she said.

“And I am really looking forward to making a valuable contribution to the RAMHP team.”

RAMHP spokeswoman Letitia Cross said appointing a Co-ordinator in the Northern Local Health District was imperative considering the challenges these communities face particularly bushfires and floods.

RAMHP APPOINTMENT: On Wednesday February 24, 2021, Alex Grantham was announced as the new RAMHP coordinator based in Lismore.

“We need to provide ongoing support to these communities and ensure they are educated and

informed about mental health concerns, so they are equipped to help each other,” Ms Cross said.

“If someone is experiencing a mental health problem, we want them to be able to find help and recover.

“Having someone with Alex’s skills and experience working on the ground connecting people to help, resources and information is really important for our rural communities particularly during challenging times.”

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program is a key program of the University of Newcastle Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, in partnership with each of the rural NSW Health Districts.

Funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, RAMHP works to address the short and long-term mental health needs of rural and remote communities in NSW by connecting people to the help they need.

Ms Grantham is based in Lismore and she can be contacted on 0428 886 752 or at Alexandra.Grantham@health.nsw.gov.au



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Bushfire scheme takes pork-barrelling to new level


Its cup runneth over! No less than a quarter of the available funds – $45 million – went into just that one electorate. That included $15.5 million to AKD Softwoods in Tumut; $13.1 million to Visy Pulp and Paper, owned by big-time Liberal Party donor Anthony Pratt; $12.5 million to Tumut Airport; $6.5 million for the Hyne Mill in Tumbarumba; $3.5 million to the Apple Thief, “to develop a new cider manufacturing and distribution centre and tourism experience in Snowy Valleys Shire”; $2.3 million to Seven Springs Orchard, Batlow and so on.

Who thinks this is OK? Who thinks this is acceptable, and not pork-barrelling on an outrageous scale? This is not to say that those in the Wagga Wagga region don’t deserve funding. But for them to receive a quarter of available funds, and for the likes of the Blue Mountains and other Labor-held seats to get diddly-squat? Beyond everything else it is just insane politics. Come the next election, one of the key things the Premier is going to have to counter is the perceptions of previous pork-barreling for which all the documentation has disappeared. But now they follow it up with this outrage. Insane, did I mention? And I reckon ICAC-able.

Craig Kelly and Tanya Plibersek argue in the hallway of Parliament House on Wednesday.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Kelly gets the Abbott treatment

In federal politics meantime, that parliament hallway encounter this week between Tanya Plibersek and Craig Kelly – whereby the former ALP deputy leader called to account the member for Hughes and Scott Morrison favourite for putting Pete Evans to shame on crazy COVID-19 treatments and anti-vaccinations rhetoric – had a fascinating effect in his own electorate. This column has previously broken the story about how the local group We Are Hughes is trying to get rid of Kelly in the same manner Voices of Warringah got behind gun independent candidate Zali Steggall to oust Tony Abbott at the last federal election. I am told by Linda Seymour, one of the founders of We Are Hughes, that since the cameras captured Kelly selling crazy they have been overwhelmed by a surge in local support.

“The phone has not stopped ringing, and the emails just keep coming,” she says. “People say, ‘What can I do? I voted Liberal, but I am just so embarrassed, I had no idea’ and so on.”

So who will they put up against Kelly? “We are working through a list of candidates now, and will come up with a very good one.”

What if Kelly missed preselection and the PM didn’t move to save him like last time, and there was a Lib candidate at the next election who wasn’t a card-carrying nutter? “It’s too late. It won’t change our plans. Enough is enough. And we now have our own momentum.” Watch this space.

Path to riches

Oh, you beautiful people. You know who you are. I refer to you Avalonians, and those in surrounding areas, who took one for the team just before Christmas to save Sydney and NSW from the plague. A lesser people would have bucked at the rules, escaped and spread the virus with abandon, but you lot? Not a bit of it. You cancelled Christmas, stayed homed, buckled up and knuckled down with nary a whimper of serious complaint, and saved the lot of us. Seriously, thank you. As a small reward, I can advise that I reckon one of you is sitting on a tiny gold mine. See, over the summer I have been up to my eyeballs doing a book on the Sydney Opera House and one of my researchers came across a fascinating titbit.

Back in the mid-1960s when they were putting the tiles on the shells – cue the architect Louis I Kahn, “The sun did not know how beautiful its light was until it was reflected off this building” – the bloke in charge of Hornibrooks Construction, Corbett Gore, was so taken with the look of those tiles, that he had an idea. Why not use some of the ones left over for the garden path of his home in Avalon? And so he did. If you’re living in Avalon, have a look. When you head out to the Hills Hoist, does it look like your feet are walking on the Opera House?

Sydney opera house chief executive Louise Herron against some of the tiles that adorn the side of the sails.

Sydney opera house chief executive Louise Herron against some of the tiles that adorn the side of the sails.Credit:Rob Homer

Bingo. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, for the Opera House lottery! (Not that those tiles, and the whole look of the Opera House, pleased everyone at the time. One Daily Mirror columnist notes of the final vision: “I think it looks like … a bunch of toenails clipped from some large albino dog.“)

Joke of the week

From up Woop Woop way, comes Jacko and his Missus, come to the Big Smoke so they can make a quid out of his strange talent. See, while Sixth Class had been the toughest four years of his life, he had blitzed the lot of them in art class and turned into this amazingly gifted portrait artist.

His fame grows and soon people from all over the Big Smoke are turning up, and paying ever big bucks, to get him to paint their likenesses.

One day, a beautiful young woman from Vaucluse arrives in a stretch limo and asks if he would paint her in the nude. This being the first time anyone has made such a request, he is a bit perturbed, particularly when the woman tells him that money is no object and she is willing to pay up to $10,000. Not wanting to get into any marital strife, he asks her to wait while he goes into the house to confer with the Missus. Finally his wife agrees, on one condition, and he comes back to tell their visitor.

“It would be me pleasure to paint yer portrait, Lady,” he says, “My Missus says it’s OK. I’ll paint you in the nude all right; but I have to at least leave me socks on, so I have a place to wipe me brushes.”

What they said

“It was something in the garden to keep him walking to help his recovery from his hip operation. We said we’d give a pound a lap – thank goodness I didn’t say I’d match any money he raised.” Colin Ingram, son-in-law of Captain Sir Tom Moore, explains how the captain started his plan to walk 100 25-metre laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, to raise £1000 ($1800) for the NHS. Sir Tom ended up raising £38 million.

“Our goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050.” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison about climate change. By coincidence, that is the same year I want to be a cordon bleu chef.

“This is an historic and proud day for the Collingwood Football Club.” – Eddie McGuire pulls the wrong rein after a report found the club was guilty of “distinct and egregious” systemic racism and called for sweeping structural change. He pulled back the next day, saying proud was not the right word.

“Without the water, we got no name, we got nothing.” – Barkandji elder Uncle Badger Bates about how government mismanagement is killing the Menindee Lakes, 1000 kilometres west of Sydney and not far from the border with South Australia. The Barkandji people, whose name is literally “people of the river”, have been forced to postpone or abandon cultural practices that have been handed down through thousands of generations over possibly 65,000 years.

“I’m not overly political. I’m overly her husband.” – Doug Emhoff, now known as the Second Gentleman.

“I truly want us to live in a world 50 or 100 years from now where people are jumping in their rockets like the Jetsons and there are families bouncing around on the moon with their kid in a spacesuit. I also think if we are going to live in that world, we better conquer childhood cancer along the way.” Jared Isaacman, a US billionaire who plans to take three “everyday” people with him to circle the globe this year.

“The weight of evidence steadily coming out of the Xinjiang region leaves no room for doubt as to the oppression Uighurs and other ethnic minorities are living under. Despite the CCP’s constant denials, the international community can no longer be idle in the face of this brutal repression.” – Victorian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching about the the BBC’s report that showsfirst-hand accounts of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture in Uighur detention camps in China.

“There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.” – Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican Congresswoman from Georgia, back in 2017. This week she said she didn’t mean it.

“Having worked in cable news for more than a decade after a wonderfully misspent youth in newspapers, I can tell you the result: a nation of news consumers both overfed and malnourished. Americans gorge themselves daily on empty informational calories, indulging their sugar fixes of self-affirming half-truths and even outright lies.” – Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox politics editor, sacked because he was the first to call Arkansas for Joe Biden.

“He’s not my doctor and he’s not yours. But he does a great job in Hughes.” – Scott Morrison, to the National Press Club on Monday, explaining why he wasn’t worried about the Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, putting out shocking disinformation on COVID-19 therapies and vaccines. By the end of the week, he was obliged – or at least he told us he did – to carpet Kelly.

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Perth bushfire: Number of homes lost rises to 86 as fatigued firefighters wait for rain


The number of homes confirmed destroyed by a devastating bushfire in the Perth Hills has risen to 86 as fatigued firefighters await forecast weekend rain.

No further properties were lost overnight but officials on Friday confirmed five more burnt-out homes were identified.

Estimates of properties lost in the city’s northeast started at 56 on Tuesday morning. By Wednesday the number had grown to 71 before rising again.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said he did not expect the figure to significantly rise.

“Obviously we’re working with local government and their databases but there’s many parts, as you can imagine, that have been absolutely devastated,” he told Perth radio 6PR.

“It is sometimes difficult to distinguish properties that have been affected by fire, whether they were a shed or a home or what they were.

“That’s the more detailed work that’s being done now by our technicians.”

Firefighters in Western Australia battle the blaze at Wooroloo, near Perth, Tuesday, 2 February

AAP

Emergency alerts remain for Shady Hills View, Bullsbrook’s east and north of Gidgegannup.

“If you plan to leave, leave now if the way is clear by travelling in a direction away from the fire,” DFES said.

“You must shelter before the fire arrives as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you.”

Firefighters are continuing to battle strong easterly winds which caused ember attacks overnight in an area east of Shady Hills.

Trees destroyed by bushfire are seen on Dinsdale Road, Gidgegannup in Perth, Thursday, February 4, 2021. An out-of-control bushfire in Perth's northeast has destroyed more than 70 homes. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING

Trees destroyed by bushfire are seen on Dinsdale Road, Gidgegannup in Perth, on 4 February, 2021.

AAP

Hopes are high forecast rain on Saturday afternoon through to Sunday will help firefighters get on top of the week-long blaze.

“We do have all the plans in place to continue dealing with this fire into next week,” Mr Klemm said.

“But if we get some rain Saturday afternoon and Sunday as it’s currently forecast, we certainly would welcome that.”

Premier Mark McGowan on Thursday described the damage as “devastating”.

“We’re all thinking of those who’ve lost their homes. In some cases, their livelihoods,” the premier said.

“The devastation caused by these bushfires is almost too much to comprehend.”

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan speaks at the Incident Control Centre at the Mundaring Arena,  Perth, Wednesday on 3 February, 2021.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan speaks at the Incident Control Centre at the Mundaring Arena, Perth, Wednesday on 3 February, 2021.

AAP

DFES Superintendent Peter Sutton said authorities were trying to clear damage from the areas seriously impacted by the blaze so homeowners could return to assess their properties.

“There are quite a lot of hazards in there still,” he said.

“We have powerlines down, we obviously have the issue of asbestos because of the area and also we have issues with chemicals because it is a semi-rural area.

“We just ask people to please be patient.”

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Suspicious blaze noted at Perth’s North-East

Skepticism has risen quickly on the cause of a second bushfire that has emerged in Perth’s north-east just recently.

Overnight, tension escalated on the fear that the fire which surfaced in the eastern part of Bullsbrook would be merging with the nearby Wooroloo blaze. Fortunately, the firefighter who came to aid and mitigate the fight managed to contain and control it, somehow relieving the nearby community.

However, what sparked speculation is a dashcam footage which is now being flagged by authorities. Crime Stoppers have urged anyone who has imperative information regarding a said footage to come forward and contact them.

Meanwhile, incident controller Peter Sutton from Department of Fire and Emergency Services confirmed no properties were lost or damaged overnight since the fire was contained in such early notice.

That being said, the looming threat from fires isn’t over. This is given the fact that the original blaze in Wooroloo is still at emergency level for some areas.
For instance, people in Gidgegannup, Shady Hills Estate and East Bullsbrook are being told they are “in the immediate danger area”, and “it is too late to leave”.
On the other hand, bushfire emergency warning has been flagged for parts of Aveley, Avon Valley National Park, Bailup, Belhus, Brigadoon, Bullsbrook, Ellenbrook, Gidgegannup, The Vines, Upper Swan and Walyunga National Park in the shire of Mundaring and The City Of Swan.

According to Emergency WA “You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.”

For further updates and information, a full list can be found on the Emergency WA website or by contacting them directly.

With extreme windy conditions overnight, firefighter forged battles with more than 10,500 hectares of burnt properties devoured by fire. Sadly, more than 80 homes have been lost, with fears that more could be destroyed.

Western Australia’s bushfire destroys over 70 homes


SYDNEY, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — The bushfire at east of Perth, capital of the state of Western Australia (WA), destroyed more than 70 homes but there was no evidence of any life loss so far, local authorities said on Wednesday.

Although an approaching cyclone might bring heavy rain to Perth, the relief was believed to be still days away and the adverse conditions were expected to worsen before that and might threaten more homes and lives.

“That is a concern ahead of some difficult conditions today where we’re going to see the wind shift to the southeast and that’ll bring that northern flank under pressure,” WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Commissioner Darren Klemm said.

“We’re into day three in this fire. And it is going to continue to be a challenging fire for at least the next three, four or five days,” he said.

The bushfire aggravated the predicament Perth was facing as the city just plunged into a strict 5-day COVID-19 lockdown triggered by a local case of the mutated virus found in Britain.

Over 200 firefighters were working in the field day and night trying to contain the blaze, which had already burned through more than 9,400 hectares of land.

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Perth bushfire worsens quickly, Over 70 homes lost

The Perth bushfires are ravaging the Hills since igniting in Wooroloo on Monday. Unfortunately today, with wind gusts of in excess of 70 km per hour, over 70 homes lost, the fire’s perimetre is over 110km and burnt through 11,000 hectares. This is a monster of a fire!

Warnings have gone out to the people in Avon Ridge, Joshua Mews, North West of Gidgeegannup and those east of the Walyunga National Park. The unpredictability and intensity of the fire has been noted by Rick Curtis, DFES, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, who says it is not safe to stay and defend homes.

“Ground crews and aerial suppression efforts are struggling to contain the forward movement of that fire,” he said.

“We would prefer to lose a house than lose a life. That’s what it comes down to.”

He said 21 aircraft were fighting the fire, along with and more than 300 firefighters on the ground. Then DFES Assistant Commissioner Craig Waters added saying that challenging weather conditions forecast for this evening would test fire fighters. “We’re experiencing really flukey winds,” Mr Waters said late on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Waters said local firefighters were starting to become fatigued after three days on the ground and that work was underway to determine the feasibility of bringing in interstate crews.

The people of Perth are now being effected by smoke haze although winds are now pushing it a touch further away from the City. Anyone with breathing difficulties should stay inside of if needed seek medical assistance.

Three evacuation centres have been set up, at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View, Swan Active in Midland and Swan Active in Beechboro.

About 230 people slept at the evacuation centres last night, while around 700 people have registered across the three venues.

Bushfire in Australia’s Perth destroys 59 homes


SYDNEY, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — An out-of-control bushfire in Australia’s west coast city of Perth has destroyed at least 59 homes, local authorities confirmed Tuesday.

There has been no loss of life and six firefighters sustained minor injuries.

Commissioner of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) of the state of Western Australia Darren Klemm told reporters Tuesday that the number of homes lost in the blaze was likely to grow as damage assessments continued.

“This will be devastating news for the owners and occupiers of these homes, and our thoughts are with them,” Klemm said.

“The rapid damage assessment team will continue … There is a likelihood that the number of homes lost will increase once that work has been completed.”

The blaze in Perth’s northeastern suburbs has ripped through more than 8,000 hectares so far. An emergency warning is still in place for parts of the shires of Mundaring, Chittering and Northam, and the city of Swan.

More than 200 firefighters and aerial crews are battling the blaze and a large aerial tanker from the state of New South Wales (NSW) will soon join the battle.

Klemm said the fire was not contained or controlled and the conditions were still challenging.

“We are still in really difficult conditions. There is a lot of work to be done on the fire to make it safe and we are a long way from that point,” he said.

“The main task for today is to try to keep the fire within the boundary that we had this morning.”

Meanwhile, Klemm warned people not to return to the area under emergency warning.

“People living within the emergency warning area cannot return home – it’s too dangerous,” he said.

“You’ll be risking not only your own life but the lives of emergency services personnel who may have to assist you.”

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At least 56 homes lost in ‘extremely dangerous’ Perth Hills bushfire, authorities confirm


An out-of-control bushfire burning in Perth’s northeastern suburbs has destroyed at least 56 homes, authorities have confirmed. 

The massive blaze with an 80km perimeter raged through the night near the hills town of Wooroloo before moving west onto the city’s coastal plain where it is threatening homes in the northern suburbs.

Weather conditions are expected to worsen overnight with wind gusts of up to 75km/h possible, with a smoke alert issued for the entire Perth metropolitan area.

DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm on Tuesday afternoon confirmed 56 homes have so far been lost in the bushfire – a number that will likely climb. 

“It is terrible news for the owners of those homes, and our thoughts are with them all,” he told reporters.

Commissioner Klemm said crews had faced “a difficult and incredibly fast-moving” blaze that was spotting 3.5 kilometres ahead of the fire front at its height on Monday night. 

“Firefighters were just going from one house to the next trying to save them,” he said.

“We are still in really difficult conditions. There is a lot of work to be done on the fire to make it safe and we are a long way from that point.”

He said he is unaware of any reports of loss of life, or injuries to the public. 

Vehicles are diverted around a road block on Great Northern Highway in Perth, on 2 February, 2021.

AAP

Earlier, Premier Mark McGowan said 80 per cent of all properties in a rural suburb near Gidgegannup have been lost.

“(Firefighters) will be conducting inquiries at the Tilden Park fire scene this morning in an attempt to establish where there has been any loss of life,” he told reporters.

Mr McGowan said a large aerial tanker was on route from NSW to help firefighters and he had briefed the prime minister on the blaze.

“This is an extremely dangerous fire and a serious situation. Weather conditions are extremely volatile,” he said.

Meanwhile, people in Perth’s CBD and coastal suburbs have reported ash landing at their homes, up to 35km from the blaze.

Operations at RAAF Base Pearce – which is in the path of the fire – have been suspended and preparations are being made to evacuate.

People in a 25km stretch west from Wooroloo to the Walyunga National Park northeast of Perth have been told it is too late to leave.

“You must shelter before the fire arrives, as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you,” the latest DFES warning said.

Jenni Stanton, 59, received a text about 2am telling her to evacuate from her home at The Vines, which is about a kilometre from the blaze.

But she and her husband decided to stay put, saying the roads out of the semi-rural suburb in Perth’s north were bumper-to-bumper with traffic.

“The fire has jumped the Great Northern Highway west of Walyunga, so it’s closer to us now,” she told AAP mid-morning.

“The yard is covered in ash and we can hear the water bombers.”

An evacuation centre has been set up at Brown Park, Swan View.

An evacuation centre has been set up at Brown Park, Swan View.

Aaron Fernandes / SBS News

Neighbour Melissa Stahl, 49, received the same text.

“I could smell the fire and went out the back and the whole yard was filled with smoke,” she said.

“My husband Michael said we better go.

“We grabbed bedding, photos, the two kids and the dog and got out of there.”

Meanwhile, surrounding areas including Parkerville, Ellenbrook, Chidlow and Jane Brook have been told to leave if they are not prepared to fight the blaze.

Evacuation centres have been set up at the Brown Park Recreation Complex in Swan View and Swan Active in Midland.

Kira Rutter, 21, fled her home in Ellenbrook about 3am to Brown Park. She said there were up to 300 people at the centre. 

“Everyone is wearing masks and social distancing and we’re a really supportive little community at the moment,” she said.

“But I’m getting a bit anxious now, the smoke has started to reach here.”

Will Lister and his daughters evacuated The Vines early on Tuesday morning, after he woke to an emergency text message from DFES.

Will Lister and his daughters evacuated from the Vines early on Tuesday morning.

Will Lister and his daughters evacuated from the Vines early on Tuesday morning.

Aaron Fernandes / SBS News

“I walked outside, there was ash and smoke throughout the street,” he told SBS News.

 

“It was pretty bad, you couldn’t see the sun. There was all this noise from choppers and fire trucks. There was ash falling from the sky, all charred and black, twigs and leaves.

 

“It looked pretty serious so we left as soon as possible.”

DFES said anyone forced to leave their homes should wear a mask and continue to follow social distancing precautions to comply with Western Australia’s current COVID-19 health regulations.



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New allegations of pork barrelling over a $177 million bushfire relief fund


The funding also included more than $3.95 million to Snowy Valleys Council to construct infrastructure at the Batlow Caravan Park for itinerant workers. More than $3.5 million was allocated for a new cider manufacturing and distribution centre.

Projects related specifically to fire damage included the Wombeyan Cave Road at Bullio, which received $8 million, and the Bilpin Fruit Bowl, which received $1.23 million to upgrade damaged infrastructure.

However, other bushfire-affected electorates including the Blue Mountains say they were never told about the fund, as reported by Michael West Media this week.

A subsequent “open” round of $250 million in grants was promoted with a detailed assessment process late last year, for which applications closed on Thursday.

The government is facing accusations the first round of funding was kept secret from some of the worst bushfire-affected areas.

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“There are still people across the state living in tents and caravans and local businesses struggling to stay open after the fires, and we have Coalition ministers doling out money based on politics rather than local need,” inquiry chair, Greens MP David Shoebridge said.

“It is now essential for the council grants inquiry to be extended to keep an even closer watch on how the next $250 million is issued.”

Mr Shoebridge said the lack of transparency had the hallmarks of the controversial Stronger Communities Grants Fund which is the subject of the ongoing parliamentary inquiry. That fund handed out $250 million worth of grants to local councils in mostly Coalition-held electorates in the lead up to the 2019 state election.

Mr Shoebridge will move a motion to order the production of all relevant documents to the bushfire funding when Parliament returns next month.

Fellow committee member and Labor MP John Graham accused the government of “doubling down on its pork barrelling,” despite knowing its grants processes were under scrutiny.

“This model in which they are just picking community groups, giving them money and getting away with it has to stop,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Regional NSW, which is led by Deputy Premier John Barilaro, said the bushfire relief fund was a “staged program” that was not yet complete.

“[The Department] worked closely with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency to agree on an initial set of known, priority, shovel-ready projects that met the criteria set under the national Bushfire Local Economic Recovery framework and were suitable for early co-funding,” he said.

He said the open round would prioritise the most fire-impacted communities across NSW.

Labor’s emergency services spokeswoman Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle slammed the initial roll-out, describing it as a “secret process with no transparent checks and balances”.

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Ms Doyle said she had spoken to multiple business owners that were fearful of recrimination for speaking out about the relief fund because they were relying on success in the open round.

“This is public money meant to help communities recover from the most devastating bushfire season in living memory,” she said, adding that further examination by the parliamentary inquiry was “essential”.

Leader of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Robert Borsak, who is also on the committee, said he would support the expansion of the inquiry.

It will resume on Monday to examine the administration of arts and cultural grants and is expected to confirm two additional hearings to explore the bushfire relief fund.

Mr Barilaro will face the inquiry on February 8, after he accepted its offer to appear as a witness despite Premier Gladys Berejiklian refusing.

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New emergency warning issued for Cherry Gardens bushfire as rain expected to provide relief


The Country Fire Service (CFS) has issued an emergency alert for a fire burning in Adelaide’s Mount Lofty Ranges.

Residents in the towns of Longwood, Mylor and Biggs Flat are being warned the Cherry Gardens fire that started yesterday may pose a threat.

They are being told to leave if it is safe to do so, or take shelter.

The fire is burning in a north-easterly direction, but the Country Fire Service says wind conditions are continually changing and that could change the direction of the fire unexpectedly.

The emergency warning area for the Cherry Gardens fire in the Adelaide Hills.(Supplied: Country Fire Service)

More than 2,500 hectares of land have already been burnt in the Cherry Gardens fire and the CFS says it expects several homes will have been lost.

They are hoping to be able to assess the damage this morning.

A cooler change and possible rain is expected later today.

About 300 firefighters and 50 fire trucks are on the fireground in steep terrain.

Smoke rising above land
A view of the Cherry Gardens fire from between Macclesfield and Flaxley last night.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny)

Homes lost in fire

CFS deputy chief officer Andrew Stark this morning said “a number of homes” had been lost in the fire.

He said several buildings had been damaged by the fire around the Mount Bold Reservoir and the Scottsdale area.

“We don’t know how many of those buildings were just farm sheds and how many were homes, but our rapid assessment teams will be going in, so we’ll have that information later on today,” he said.

He said no serious injuries had been reported.

“Everyone’s pretty safe and well, but very hot conditions for our firefighters, so we’ve had some problems with heat stress and dehydration, but nobody has been required to be taken to hospital,” he said.

He said the fire would take a few days to extinguish, and people could expect to see smoke from the Adelaide Plains during that time.

The South Eastern Freeway is open to all traffic but there are road closures across a large area around the fire.

Horses and sheep in an area surrounded by a wooden fence
Horses and sheep sheltering at Mount Barker during the fire.(ABC News: David Frearson)

Rain expected over area today

The mercury stayed above 24 degrees Celsius overnight in Adelaide after a top of 43C yesterday.

Senior forecaster Brett Gage said the city could expect showers in the morning, with more rain and a possible thunderstorm in the afternoon, when a wind change is also expected to come through.

Up to 15 millimetres of rain is expected in Adelaide.

Mr Stark said the wind change would “provide some challenges”, but the rain was welcome.

“There’s a little bit of rain moving across the Yorke Peninsula and the Eyre Peninsula this morning and that will be of some benefit as well,” he said.

“It’s as much about the lowering temperatures and the increasing humidity as the day goes on, which will be great,” he said.

Up to 80mm of rain is forecast for South Australia’s northern agricultural area today, along with possible heavy falls and flooding in the north-west pastoral area.

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