Australia fires live: NSW and Victoria bushfires insurance bill tops $700m – latest updates

Rain falls on some NSW, Victorian and South Australian bushfire-affected areas, but worse fire conditions are forecast to return. Follow all today’s latest news and live updates

11.58pm GMT

Anthony Albanese was asked about one of Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly’s proposals for a war-like mobilisation in response to the climate crisis, while on Studio Ten a little earlier today:

Related: Labor MP urges war-like national mobilisation to tackle Australia’s existential threat of climate crisis

One of the things we could do is set up, even if it was on a voluntary basis, there are people out there who would want to contribute, and we can see that. I met a bloke on Saturday at Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills. I said to him, ‘How long have you been fighting fires for here, because it has been going for a few weeks there?’ But he had already spent over a month in NSW. One of the things that has happened and my concern and the reason for a national response is the volunteer firefighters, who I have met on the north coast of NSW, you would say, ‘Where are you from?’ And they would say ‘Bendigo’ or ‘Adelaide; or ‘Perth’ or ‘Auckland’ for that matter. We need to get better at it. We need to use the reconstruction period as well. How do we increase the skills base? How do we bring people in who might be in these regional communities? They are looking for a trade or to do things. We will be reconstructing roads, houses, bridges, whole communities, schools, hospitals. They have all gone. How do we get something positive out of what is a devastating crisis?

11.55pm GMT

There is talk about delaying the Australian Open because of the air quality concerns in Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic was asked about it after a win in the ATP Cup in Brisbane overnight.

That’s probably the very, very last option. If it comes down to … the conditions affecting the health of players, you have to consider it.

11.51pm GMT

Just a reminder that the more favourable weather conditions does not mean this is over.

The end of the week will see a return to dangerous fire conditions and we have multiple blazes still going.

WATCH & ACT issued for Benambra, Cobberas, The Brothers and Tom Groggin

The bushfires in the area are not yet under control. The fire activity has decreased with the mild conditions however there may still be fire movement later today. More info

11.47pm GMT

In rather strange news in Canberra today @naomirwolf has live-streamed a call to Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP‘s office on @YouTube to discuss firefighting efforts. ??

11.45pm GMT

And this is still happening on the sidelines.

I was a member of the cabinet and party room that backed the National Energy Guarantee – this was a national energy policy.

11.29pm GMT

Some pointed out yesterday that fire-ravaged Snowy Valley had not been included on a list of local government areas eligible for the Australian government disaster recovery payment.

These are payments of $1,000 to people who have been seriously impacted by the fires – they may have been injured or returned to find their homes destroyed.

Guardian Australia put this to the Home Affairs department yesterday and last night a spokeswoman confirmed Snowy Valley had been added to the list.

11.26pm GMT

AAP have a summary of the Victorian situation:

Almost 450 buildings have been destroyed in bushfires raging across eastern Victoria with a drizzle of rain and cooler conditions offering some respite.

Fourteen active fires are burning across the state on Tuesday with more than 1.2 million hectares in Victoria scorched.

11.22pm GMT

We’re in for the long haul. #YourADF is focused on the safety of life, evacuation of people seeking to leave affected areas, support & access to isolated communities & support to state evacuation centres.

Learn more:

11.17pm GMT

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has issued a warning to anyone who is pregnant:

Exposure to air pollution in pregnancy has been linked to increased rates of preterm birth, decreased birth weight, hypertensive disorder of pregnancy and gestational diabetes,” president Dr Vijay Roach said:

We would reiterate that these risks are increased when there has been exposure over a long time period.

I’ve delivered a baby this morning (in a smoky theatre) and done lots of antenatal visits.

The dawn of a new decade. Normally a time for optimism and hope.

Today, every single parent-to-be tells me they are fearful for their child’s climate future. #bushfiresAustralia

11.09pm GMT

The fire on Kangaroo Island, which has burned through about a third of the South Australian icon, is still going. SA authorities have just released this advice:

The current fire edge extends from the West of Vivonne Bay to the North Coast at Stokes Bay, and West of Parndana. Crews are currently attending to multiple smoke plumes East of the existing fire in the Parndana Conservation Park, at the Cape Borda Lighthouse and in the Snug Cove Road area on the Northern side of the Island.

At the moment these fires pose no threat to the public.

There may be areas of uncontrolled fire within the fire ground.If you are in this area stay alert, monitor local conditions and decide what you will do if the situation changes.

At this time there is no threat to life or property and firefighters are attending this fire.

11.05pm GMT

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has rejected freedom of information requests about Scott Morrison’s Hawaiian holiday.

PM&C arguing it’s too difficult to find messages sent to the PM about the bushfires during his Hawaiian holiday because, in part, of the bushfires.

11.02pm GMT

If you have missed the latest Craig Kelly saga, Sarah Martin has written on it here.

Related: Craig Kelly interview: Piers Morgan calls MP ‘disgraceful’ for denying climate link to bushfires

11.01pm GMT

Laura Tobin, who challenged Craig Kelly over his [wrong] climate comments on UK breakfast television, has responded to Kelly’s “Pommie weather girl” comment.

It is worth noting that even though Piers Morgan also challenged Kelly, cutting him off and then cutting short the interview, he did not get a mention.

Yes I’m a Meteorologist
-A degree in Physics & Meteorology
-4 yrs as an aviation forecaster at the RAF
-12 yrs as a broadcast meteorologist
-Attended a @WMO Climate course last year & upto date with all the science #NotAWeatherGirl #IKnowWhatImTalkingAbout#DoYou?#ClimateChange

10.55pm GMT

The mayor of the Shoalhaven council, Amanda Findlay, says all the fire evacuees have been moved into temporary accommodation:

No one is sleeping in an evacuation centre down south here. They’ve all been relocated into local accommodation, those who registered with us. Some people are staying with friends and relatives at this moment, you know, it’s really important for them to be surrounded by the love and kindness of people that they trust and feel comfortable with.

I know that some of our people are saying in that kind of accommodation and we’ll be doing our best to make sure that everyone gets the accommodation that they need and that is suitable for them as we, you know, continue to go through the recovery process now of this terrible disaster.

10.48pm GMT

Given just how much false information is out on social media, this is just a small step.

Actually pretty impressed with Facebook’s #factcheck system that has flagged that misleading NASA FIRMS #AustraliaFires visualisation as “false information”. Probably the first time I’ve seen a piece of #dataviz get flagged like this?

Ping @jscarto @NickEvershed

10.45pm GMT

VicEmergency also has a brief update on the recovery:

Fires continue to burn in East Gippsland with more than 900,000 hectares impacted.

There have been unconfirmed reports of property losses in areas, including Reedy Flat, Buchan, Bruthen, Sarsfield, Gelantipy and areas between Nicholson and Swan Reach.

10.44pm GMT

NSW RFS has issued a building impact assessment.

The number of homes saved, given what they were facing, just shows how lucky we are to have the volunteer force we do.

Building Impact Assessment teams continue working through fire affected areas, to assess damage to properties. So far this season 1,588 homes destroyed & more than 20,000 buildings saved. Since 1 Jan, 672 homes have been lost. This figure is likely to increase. #nswrfs #nswfires

10.42pm GMT

I bet Tourism Australia is really kicking itself spending $15m on the Kylie Minogue ad when it could have had Craig Kelly publicise Australia in the UK for free.

Here are some facts, Mr Kelly:
1) Australia’s just had its hottest year on record.
2) Most scientists say climate change is driving the heat higher.
3) Australia’s currently suffering one of its worst ever national bushfire seasons.
4) Do the maths.

10.37pm GMT

Both NSW and Victorian authorities are starting to open up fire-ravaged communities – but if you are in a fire zone, check with your local authorities.

10.37pm GMT

HMAS Adelaide is off the NSW south coast.

It has been helping with supplies and refueling the airfleet being used to waterbomb the fires.

10.33pm GMT

There is so much misinformation surrounding these fires, a lot of it being pushed across social media.

That these fires are mostly the fault of arsonists is one of the biggest ones.

The Victorian Premier @DanielAndrewsMP has told ABC Gippsland that none of the bushfires in Victoria have been confirmed to be deliberately lit. This fits with what police told me on Saturday – just one man has been charged with attempting to light a fire #Vicfires #gippsnews

The Victorian Premier @DanielAndrewsMP says there are now less days during the year when it’s possible to carry out controlled burns because of the drought and longer fire periods #gippsnews #vicfires #AustralianFires

10.24pm GMT

The former Australian tennis champ Pat Cash followed Craig Kelly on to Piers Morgan’s UK breakfast TV show, and had a *slightly different* take to the Morrison government backbencher.

In this #GoodMorningBritain interview, @TheRealPatCash was spot on.@ScottMorrisonMP did not listen to the ex-fire chiefs. It’s #ClimateChange. The feds were slow to act.

Many heroic firefighters didn’t have proper resources (eg. big firefighting planes and better masks etc).

10.20pm GMT

People who have lost important identity and business documents in the NSW bushfires can call us at 13 77 88 or visit a Service NSW Centre for help to replace the paperwork for free: #servicensw #nswfires #NSWbushfires

10.17pm GMT

Sea dogs of the Choules part 1, captured by Kristine Daniels. Thanks to the @Australian_Navy for letting these furry companions stay with their owners during the Mallacoota evacuation. #lovegippsland

10.16pm GMT

The Business Council of Australia has written to all its members encouraging them to offer at least 20 days of paid leave to any volunteer firefighters. It says:

It has also established the Australian Volunteer Support Trust to provide financial support to the families of volunteer firefighters who lose their lives while on duty. It aims to raise $25m as an initial sum.

“The trust will be a permanent and ongoing fund to support the children of volunteers who have died fighting these fires and in future disasters,” president Tim Reed said.

10.00pm GMT

Smoke from the Australian bushfires has again travelled over 10,000km to South America and can now be seen in Chile.

That happened in November as well.

9.56pm GMT

Comedian and Instagram star Celeste Barber’s bushfire fundraiser has now hit $40m.

The last bids on Shane Warne’s baggy green was over $300,000 (in less than a day) before the website crashed.

9.52pm GMT

AAP reports that a barge is on its way to Mallacoota to evacuate the remaining people who want to leave the town, after fire tore through it:

A barge is on its way to an isolated Victorian holiday town to rescue the remaining few hundred people cut off after fires destroyed access.

About 300 people who want to leave Mallacoota near the NSW border remain in the fire-ravaged town.

9.51pm GMT

Josh Frydenberg has told the ABC it is too early to even begin putting a figure on the economic cost of the fires to the nation:

Because clearly all those businesses in those communities who have been impacted, been hit at exactly the wrong time of the year, when they’re the busiest time.

So there’s going to be a very significant economic impact, but it is too early to tell what that full impact will be but, like I said, our priority, with the unprecedented call-out of the defence force, with the movement of Chinook helicopters and Black Hawks ferrying the firefighters to the most difficult terrain, the use of amphibious vessels to evacuate people from places like Mallacoota, the delivery of 18,000 litres of fuel, which the ADF did the other day to people in need, this is what we’re focusing on, getting the Australian Tax Office to give a two-month reprieve to people to put in payments, the work that we’re doing with Centrelink.

9.47pm GMT

The UK has also offered Australia support.

Our hearts go out to all those in Australia affected by these devastating fires. I have been in touch with PM @ScottMorrisonMP to offer any assistance we can provide. We stand with you at this very difficult time.

9.47pm GMT

The state response controller, Gavin Freeman, spoke to the ABC about the Victorian fire situation, stressing that small rainfall is not enough:

Look, we don’t want to sound ungrateful. Any rain is very welcome.

But we need significantly more rain to make any impact on these fires. What it has done over the last 24 hours is calmed and slowed fire behaviour and stopped the forward progress of the fire. So, that’s a good thing.

Look, it won’t take much at all. The underlying dryness, because of the drought, is pretty severe. So, this little bit of rain will quickly evaporate once we get those warmer conditions on Thursday and Friday, and that little bit of wind, of course, and those fires will take off again. They are in that alpine country, in heavy fuel. It’s not like it’s light fuel that can easily be put out.

9.38pm GMT


Also “weather girl”. Laura Tobin has a degree in physics and meteorology from the University of Reading.

I really don’t think Kelly minds going on TV/radio and getting a belting. It suits his purposes

9.29pm GMT

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg will meet with the Insurance Council of Australia today, as well as bank CEOs, to discuss the response to the bushfire crisis.

The Insurance Council estimates the disaster has surpassed $700m in claims.

9.19pm GMT

Asked if Scott Morrison’s initial response to the crisis was embarrassing for the nation, Craig Kelly says:

Absolutely not. In fact, what has been disappointing is that we are a very stoic nation. We have had disasters in the past. Everyone has got behind the leader, we have got in there, done our best to clean it up.

But unfortunately, during an international tragedy, we have seen people actually trying to exploit it for political advantage.

9.16pm GMT

“There is no denialist cult,” Craig Kelly says, about views about climate change within the Morrison government.

He says the debate should be about hazard reduction. Which has already been explained about a million times.

9.13pm GMT

“The weather girl had no idea what she was talking about,” Craig Kelly says.

“She says the Australia continent is drying out and that is just not true.”

9.12pm GMT

On what Craig Kelly says his colleagues will think:

I think they will think that I have been out there, defending our nation.

9.11pm GMT

Craig Kelly is on ABC radio now, making the same points he made on the BBC and British television.

He denies he embarrassed the prime minister and says he will continue to defend Scott Morrison.

9.05pm GMT

Cold Chisel, Birds of Tokyo and Magic Dirt have cancelled their Day on the Green concert at Rutherglen in Victoria because of the hazardous air quality.

From the promoter Michael Newton’s statement:

We are extremely disappointed to cancel today’s event at All Saints Estate but the unsafe conditions give us no other option. Our first priority is the safety of patrons, staff and artists and with air quality on the site and in surrounding areas now at a hazardous level, we have no other option but to cancel today’s show.

9.02pm GMT

The Coalition backbencher Craig Kelly has been trending on Twitter most of the night after agreeing to this interview with Piers Morgan on UK breakfast television.

Craig Kelly MP defends Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to the wildfire crisis and says there isn’t a link between climate change and bushfires.@piersmorgan | @susannareid100 | #GMB

8.58pm GMT

Good morning.

Firefighters in NSW and Victoria are seizing another day of cooler temperatures and lower winds to try to get ahead of the fires which have blazed across at least 4.9m hectares.

Firefighters will use more favourable conditions to continue work on strengthening containment lines today. Use this time as well to prepare your property and discuss your bush fire survival plan with your family, ahead of forecast worsening conditions this Friday. #NSWRFS

Emergency services are working hard to clear fire affected roads, as fire can impact road surfaces and cause structural damage.

Check VicTraffic, take directions from emergency services, and we’ll open roads as soon as they’re considered safe. #vicfires

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