Fear of the next fire roller

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Ttraditionally, it is the first big fireworks display in the world to start the new year. But it is still not entirely clear whether Sydney will let the missiles ascend over the bridge and the opera house this year – because the risk of fire in the dry land is extremely high. With at least nine dead, more than a thousand burned-down houses and impending fire rolls this Monday and Tuesday, many Australians find it cynical when the metropolis is put into a festive mood at midnight before the New Year.

Christoph Hein

Christoph Hein

Business correspondent for South Asia / Pacific based in Singapore.

More than a quarter of a million people have therefore signed a petition to cancel the fireworks, stipulating that the money saved should be transferred to the more than 3,000 volunteer firefighters who have been fighting the flames in the country for weeks. Last year, the spectacle is said to have cost around six million Australian dollars (3.8 million euros). However, a large part of the sum has long been spent.

Colorful and colorful Sydney welcomed the year 2019.


Scott Morrison, the country’s prime minister, who has just returned from a vacation in Hawaii, said on Sunday that the rockets would burn: “I can’t think of a better time to show the world how optimistic and positive we are.” said Gladys Berejiklian, prime minister of the state of New South Wales – it was she who had called for a state of emergency last week and forced her party friend to return from vacation. Many cities, including the capital Canberra, have already canceled the fireworks due to the situation in the country. Sydney’s celebration, however, attracts more than a million people each year and generates around 130 million Australian dollars in revenue for the city. Of course, new peak temperatures of more than 40 degrees are expected for Tuesday.

“We expect a very serious, life-threatening situation”

Andrew Crisp, head of civil protection, ordered on Sunday to evacuate around 30,000 vacationers from the Gippsland region near Melbourne. “It is getting hot, it is getting windy, it is getting dry,” Crisp warned of the dangerous conditions that are expected in several regions of the continent over the next few days. Crisp feared that the situation could become so difficult that the roughly 70 fire-fighting planes and helicopters could not be used. Around 130,000 hectares of land are burning in the region, three fires are considered “uncontrolled”. Crisp warned: “We expect a very serious, life-threatening situation. Make no mistake in the assessment. ”The Falls Music Festival in Lorne had already been canceled on Sunday morning. More than 9,000 fans had to vacate the tent city while conditions allowed.

For the first time since 1897, Melbourne will experience three days with temperatures above 43 degrees this month, meteorologists predict for this Monday. South Australia with the metropolis Adelaide expects similar values. In Australia there is concern about the next fire roller – a total fire ban has been imposed in the state this Monday.

In view of the explosive situation and the political disaster surrounding his family vacation in times of crisis, Morrison has now also reversed its course with the voluntary fire services. If he had said a few days ago that women and men just loved being outside in the field, he now announced a compensation for their loss of earnings. The government had “been working on it for some time”. The states of New South Wales and South Australia want to compensate the self-employed or helpers who work for small or medium-sized businesses with up to 300 Australian dollars a day. The ceiling will be $ 6,000.

“This is not about paying volunteers. This is about keeping our volunteers’ efforts going by protecting people from financial loss, ”said Morrison. He estimated the total cost to be around $ 50 million. Last week the government said that officials who took part in the fight against the bushfires would get paid leave for at least four weeks. In New South Wales alone, around 2,300 volunteers worked against the flames on Sunday. Two of them had lost their lives a few days ago.

The state of New South Wales, meanwhile, has made another contribution to the climate debate that is fueled by the never-ending fires. The country’s chief scientist, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, is to work out a plan to make the state a world leader in non-fossil energy. The focus should be on hydrogen. “We should address climate change clearly to protect our environment, but with the same weight to give our economy a future,” said Environment Minister Matt Kean. The federal government around Morrison is critical of climate change and continues to rely heavily on coal to increase exports and avoid energy shortages in its own country.

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