The Wollondilly fire front in NSW

Over 2,160 homes have been destroyed this bushfire season, leaving thousands of people homeless. Courtesy: ABC News/Selby Stewart

People who own holiday homes in bushfire-affected communities have been urged to make them available for rent to increase the supply of accommodation for those who have lost everything.

Holiday homes wanted

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the NSW Government could provide financial help through rental bond loans and advance rent payments to help get people into suitable accommodation.

“We have people literally living in motels, in sheds and in tents,” Mr Ward said.

“We need more permanent accommodation to house people that have been displaced because their lives have been destroyed.”

Calls to investigate smoke effects

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is seeking discussions with health authorities about the long-term effects of poor air quality, following weeks of smoke-filled air in NSW and Victoria.

Satellite imaging tracking the progress of a smoke plume shows it drifting out over the Tasman Sea and then to the Pacific Ocean, and NASA says the smoke is predicted to cross Australia again in the coming days.

AMA president Tony Bartone expressed concern and called for an investigation into the health effects.

“We haven’t seen this type of exposure in terms of length and of density of smoke haze for many, many years and we don’t have a lot of experience and data to reply upon in terms of the long-term effects,” Dr Bartone said.

Lockout laws end

After six years, Sydney’s lockout laws will officially be lifted from today, prompting extra police patrols around licensed venues.

The Berejiklian Government last year announced it would scrap several restrictions imposed on licensed venues across the CBD.

The exception was in Kings Cross, which the State Government said would be up for review in 12 months.

It means patrons can enter licensed venues in the CBD and Oxford Street after 1:30am and venues with “good records” will have their last drinks extended by 30 minutes to 3:30am.

Council axes Australia Day fireworks

Blacktown City Council has cancelled its Australia Day fireworks “out of respect” for those affected by recent bushfires.

Mayor Tony Bleasdale said celebrations at The Rooty Hill, including rides, food trucks and stalls, would go ahead without the planned fireworks display.

“Out of respect to those who lost lives and property and with the ever-present danger from fires in our own area, [the] council has decided to put this year’s fireworks on hold,” Mr Bleasdale said.

The council also cancelled fireworks planned for the Lunar New Year celebrations last night.

Fears for missing Malaysian nationals

Police have concerns for the safety of two Malaysian nationals missing from Sydney’s south-west since late last year.

They are appealing for information on the whereabouts of Lisa Hoh, 24, and Chin Leong Chan, 26, who were both last seen in Campsie on December 13.

The pair, who are believed to be travelling together, were reported missing to police after attempts to contact them failed.

A white Toyota Camry with registration BC64SI, which Mr Chan drives, has not been seen since his disappearance.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-14/morning-briefing-tuesday-14-january/11863398