Aussie fires still burn

A total fire ban was declared throughout the State of Victoria, with temperatures of 38C and a north wind predicted to gust up to 120 kph; conditions not dissimilar to those conditions that prevailed on February 7th - 'Black Saturday' - when fire swept down on several communities killing over 220 people.

Peter Gladwell

A total fire ban was declared throughout the State of Victoria, with temperatures of 38C and a north wind predicted to gust up to 120 kph; conditions not dissimilar to those conditions that prevailed on February 7th - 'Black Saturday' - when fire swept down on several communities killing over 220 people.

Conditions remain dangerous and some fires continue to burn with the worst now burning from Kilmore to Murrindindi in north west Victoria about 120 kilometres from Melbourne where 127,000 hectares have been scorched.

Another fire is burning out of control in the Wilson's Promontory national park, a popular holiday spot for tourists and the southern most tip of Australia, and the Buyip Ridge Forest fire 12-15 kilometres north from my property across paddocks and rolling pastures in some of the most picturesque scenery in the entire state.


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Last Saturday my wife and I attended a community awareness meeting in Neerim South to learn more about this fire and we were told by fire officials that it had now destroyed 27,000 hectares.

The problem facing firefighters is that these fires are now burning underground in some places and also under thick debris on the forest floor and they could burn for weeks until we enjoy some good rain to put them out. As I type this letter the air is thick and smells of smoke. We need and look forward to cooler weather and remain desperate for rain and lots of it.

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Qantas the Australian national airline has been forced to ground its two new Airbus A380 Super jumbos on account of a fuel leak and problems with the nose wheel. One aircraft was grounded in London Monday evening before it was about to return to Australia and the other grounded in as it was on route to Melbourne from Los Angeles.

The airline announced that it had put two of its Boeing 747 jumbos into service to pick up stranded passengers but this is seen as another slur against an airline that has experienced a number of mechanical problems over the past 12 months with its fleet and unions point the finger at labour shedding and having aircraft maintained outside Australia as a means of cutting more costs.

General Motors Holden, part of the giant American car maker, has suspended production temporarily as part of a plan to implement world wide savings. Many workers involved in the auto parts industry have had their pay held over for what could be a period extending beyond two weeks.

Up until now Holden, the Australian car maker, has avoided the redundancies faced in other countries but fears are now circulating the axe of unemployment will now be felt in this country.

Already the Ford Motor Company have reduced worker numbers at their Melbourne and Geelong plants with more lay-offs likely as the economy descends closer towards a recession.

Last week Pacific Brands, a well known Australian firm behind well known local clothing brand Holeproof, manufacturers of men's and women's socks and hosiery, retrenched 1.800 workers in their Melbourne and Sydney plants and were quoted as planning to move production to China.

Since these layoffs controversy has raged in the media and among unionists that executives awarded themselves huge pay increases late last year and that the new CEO was paid a staggering A$1.8m salary package. Nice if you can get it!

This follows right on the heels of the company receiving a huge payment as part of the Federal Government stimulus package to keep firms solvent and aid towards securing employment for Australian workers.

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