"Thoughts and prayers." Student asks why Scott Morrison didn't heed warnings about catastrophic bushfires on Q&A, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. “Thoughts and prayers.” Student asks why Scott Morrison didn’t heed the warnings about the catastrophic bushfires on Q&A.

With NSW set to face catastrophic fire conditions on Tuesday, ABC’s Q&A was focused on the bushfires, climate change and the Government’s actions.

And it was a rather simple question from a high school student that proved the most poignant.

“With 150 fires burning across New South Wales and the devastating loss of lives and homes, our Prime Minister has offered thoughts and prayers,” the student said.

“As young student leaders and citizens we are more inclined for more direct action, so we are collecting food and essential items to donate to regional areas. We would like to know why Prime Minister Morrison did not heed the warnings of Greg Mullins, the former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, and plan preventative action to avoid the devastation?”

Mullins is part of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, which sees 23 former fire chiefs unite to call for urgent climate change action. They have been requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister since April to prepare the Government for the bushfires.

Labor MP Mark Butler responded: “I have a particular view that a long standing protocol that we’ve had in Australia that during an emergency we put political disputes on hold; there’s an understanding that you don’t engage in political debate while people are at risk.”

“There is too much political debate during an emergency,” he added.

“Once that finishes, I think there is time for a very serious debate about the impact of climate change and what it is doing to our country.”

Host Tony Jones asked Liberal MP Jason Falinski why the leader of the Coalition hadn’t taken that meeting.


“Do you think the PM should meet those 23 fire chiefs who have tried to meet him in April and again in September with the idea of a warning him that precisely this sort of thing would happen?” Jones asked.

Liberal MP Falinski responded: “I can’t speak for the PM or his diary manager… I don’t know why the Prime Minister hasn’t met with those fire chiefs as of yet. He’s a very busy person.”

2. Hundreds of schools across NSW will close on Tuesday amid bushfire danger.

Hundreds of schools across NSW will close for the day as the state faces “catastrophic” bushfire danger.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell says safety must be the top priority on Tuesday, with a week-long state of emergency declared amid dangerous fire conditions across the state.

Almost 600 schools will be shut, including about 300 public schools and more than 200 Catholic and independent schools.

About 20 TAFE campuses and some early childhood services will also close.

“Safety remains the number one priority. If is not safe to travel to school please do not attend and inform the school of your intention,” Ms Mitchell said.

The closure numbers could vary as conditions change, the department said.

The full list of public school closures is on the Department of Education website.

3. Family want answers over Northern Territory cop shooting.


The family of Indigenous teen Kumanjayi Walker, who was shot dead at the weekend, are asking why his Aboriginal police officer uncle was not sent in to negotiate or a Taser used by a policeman instead of a gun.

Mr Walker, 19, was shot at Yuendumu, 300 kilometres from Alice Springs, about 7pm on Saturday after two officers went to the property to arrest him.

Emotions are high in the remote community of about 800 mostly Indigenous Warlpiri people, who are angry at the prospect of police investigating themselves.

Mostly peaceful protests have been held outside remote police stations calling for justice.

There are plans for people to travel from remote communities to Alice Springs this week to protest Mr Walker’s death.

Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price, a Warlpiri/Celtic woman who is related to Mr Walker, said the family wanted answers.

She said they wanted to know why Yuendumu Aboriginal Community Police Officer Derek Williams, who was Mr Walker’s uncle, was not used to negotiate his arrest.

“They are asking why Derek wasn’t used to approach his nephew to get him to co-operate in the first place,” Ms Price said.

“As well as the use of deadly weapon, a gun, why wasn’t perhaps a Taser used in this situation.”

The Northern Territory’s new police chief says an investigation into how Mr Walker came to be shot would be independent and seek the truth.

NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker was sworn into the role on Monday, replacing Reece Kershaw. His first job was holding a press conference where he confirmed there was body-worn camera footage of the shooting.

“This is a tragedy, everybody can be very reassured that we will investigate this fully on behalf of the coroner to ensure the outcome is subsequently available for public scrutiny,” Mr Chalker told reporters.

“We will continue to work with the ICAC Commissioner (Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption) as well in respect to ensuring professional oversight in relation to that matter.


“We currently have (WA) assistant commissioner Nick Anticich on secondment here leading the professional standards investigation to this matter on my behalf.”

However the Central Land Council, which represents Indigenous people, said Mr Walker’s family deserved an inquiry that was fully “independent of the NT Police, transparent and thorough”.

Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael White who is in Yuendumu said Mr Walker lunged at an officer as two policemen tried to arrest him.

He said Mr Walker was armed – but police will not say with what – and that an altercation occurred resulting in an officer being stabbed in the shoulder.

“During that time a struggle ensued and two shots were fired and he sadly passed away later,” he said.

Police had allowed Mr Walker to attend the funeral of a relative earlier that day.

He was released from prison on October 21 over property and stealing offences but was to be re-arrested for breaching the terms of his release.

4. The senate has failed to scrap fast-track visas.

The Greens and Labor have failed to scrap the fast-tracked processing of asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat.

The coalition established the fast-tracking scheme to resolve the visa applications of more than 30,500 asylum seekers who arrived between 2012 and 2014.

The system restricts the types of protection visas people can access and limits their avenues of appeal.

A disallowance motion to unwind the scheme was shot down in the Senate on Monday, 33 votes to 31.

Greens senator Nick McKim accused the government of shifting the goalposts on visa applicants.

“This process was designed to set people up to fail. It was designed to minimise the number of people that could successfully claim asylum in Australia,” he told parliament.

“It is part of an ongoing and punitive campaign against refugees, against people seeking asylum that is being waged by both major parties.”

Opposition frontbencher Murray Watt said Labor backed Operation Sovereign Borders, including boat turn-backs and regional resettlement, but argued the fast-track system was unfair.

“Labor believes we can be strong on borders without losing our humanity,” he said.

The government warned the move would have resulted in application assessments blowing out from an average of 23 days to 504.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said disallowance risked delaying the processing of up to 4000 illegal maritime arrivals who arrived under Labor.


“When Labor lost control of our borders, 50,000 people arrived on 800 boats, 8000 kids were put into detention and 1200 people tragically drowned at sea,” he said.

“Now they have tried unsuccessfully to further delay the processing of 4000 people who came here illegally on their watch.”

5. Jacinda Ardern has offered New Zealand’s support to fight fires.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken to her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, pledging further bushfire-fighting support.

There are currently five New Zealand fire fighters in the field, with a sixth travelling to help battle the fires currently ravaging Australia’s eastern states.

“These people are specialists helping in air attack and heavy machinery supervision, safety, and managing interstate deployments,” Fire and Emergency NZ manager Paul Turner said.

Ardern said Australia would receive more support from its trans-Tasman neighbours if they needed it.

“Our thoughts are with Australia right now, these are devastating fires,” she said on Monday afternoon.

“I contacted Prime Minister Morrison this morning just to touch base and offer New Zealand’s full support.

“He acknowledged that on one of his visits he had actually spoken to one of the New Zealanders already over there

“I’ve made the offer, to definitely let us know if further support is required. We’re working through an additional request … for additional fire fighters.”