News in 5: Three dead after Sydney's wild storm; Potential fines for pedestrians; Fire danger in Qld.

-With AAP

1. Three people, including a 14-year-old and an SES volunteer, died yesterday from Sydney’s storm.

The Sydney storms which lashed the city and surrounding regions have claimed the lives of three people in three separate incidents.

On Wednesday afternoon a Sydney Emergency Services volunteer collapsed and died while attending a job in the Illawarra.

“This is a tragic event and my deepest sympathies are with the man’s family and friends,” Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named, died in a two-car collision in Thornleigh.

A third man was unable to be revived when his car hit a pole just after 7pm in South Wentworthville.

One police officer broke her leg when a tree fell on her police car as she and her partner were at North Ryde, where drivers had unsuccessfully tried to get through a flooded road about 6.45am.

The storms delivered a month’s worth of rain to Sydney in just two hours.

A low-pressure system caused havoc for commuters and emergency services on Wednesday morning.

The SES responded to nearly 1000 calls on Wednesday with most due to storm damage and fallen trees.

Frustrated emergency services urged NSW drivers to slow down or avoid all non-essential travel in the afternoon.

NSW Ambulance Acting Superintendent Steve Vaughan said paramedics attended four times the normal amount of car crashes on Wednesday.

“Everyone has somewhere to be but if there is floodwater across the road, please stay out of it,” he told reporters.

Several roads, including the Anzac Bridge, were closed or were cut to one lane while hundreds of services by rail or air were cancelled – including 150 flights in or out of Sydney Airport.

Mosman recorded more than 145mm of rain, while Chatswood had 133mm, including 89mm within an hour.

Close to 100mm fell at Observatory Hill in Sydney’s CBD between 6am and 8am – easily eclipsing the November average of 83.8mm.

While the capital was mostly spared after 10am, parts of Shoalhaven received more than 150mm within the six hours to 3pm.

More than 10,000 homes and businesses lost power due to fallen trees, lightning strikes and flood-affected wiring in Sydney and the Hunter region.

About 3800 were still in the dark by mid-afternoon, and at 9pm Ausgrid was still working to restore power to 3250 homes.

Ausgrid crews responded to more than 120 hazards, including downed trees and powerlines, across the network.


Crews planned to work through the night to restore power and were expected to still be continuing repairs in areas including Mosman to install new power poles and restring wires.

Crews also planned to work overnight in the CBD to repair two underground substations which flooded during Wednesday’s torrential rain.

An overflowing weir on the Parramatta River led to ferries being cancelled between Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta, while Cockatoo Island was also closed.

Rail services in the inner west were cancelled due to standing water and North Shore trains were limited as overhead wiring underwent repairs after a fallen tree.

The low pressure system which caused havoc for commuters and emergency services on Wednesday is expected to move on from the NSW coast by Thursday morning, easing conditions in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter region.

Isolated shower activity is expected to continue but with just a few millimetres projected and no danger of localised or flash flooding.

2. You could soon be fined $200 for using your phone while crossing the road.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia is calling for the government to crack down on distracted pedestrians with a $200 fine for not paying attention while crossing the road.

The aim of the fine would be to stop pedestrians listening to music or using their phone while crossing the road.

Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, told that it is a dangerous act that pedestrians rarely have to answer for.

He said that distracted pedestrians can cost lives and something needs to be done about it.


“There is a huge potential for harm when pedestrians cross roads while distracted,” Mr Scruby said.

“It’s not just the pedestrians that can get hurt, if a driver is forced to swerve to avoid a person they could end up harming themselves or someone else.”

Under the proposed penalty, pedestrians could still be fined when crossing on a green pedestrian light.

3. Ivanka Trump defends private email use.

Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter and a White House adviser, has dismissed comparisons of her use of private email for government work and that of Hillary Clinton, her father’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election.

“All of my emails are stored and preserved. There were no deletions. There is no attempt to hide,” she told ABC News in an interview released on Wednesday. “There’s no equivalency to what my father’s spoken about.”

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for an investigation into her email use following reports last week that she used her personal account up to 100 times in 2017 to contact other Trump administration officials.

President Trump, a Republican, repeatedly criticised Clinton during the 2016 presidential election campaign over her use of personal email and a private server while she was US secretary of state, vowing to investigate her and spurring cries of “lock her up” among his supporters.

The New York Times reported last week that, once in office, Trump wanted to order the US Department of Justice to prosecute her but was dissuaded by his White House lawyer.

When ABC News asked Ivanka Trump, “So the idea of ‘Lock her up!’ doesn’t apply to you?”


“No,” she replied.

Use of a personal account for government business potentially violates a law requiring preservation of all presidential records. It has also raised security concerns, particularly over classified or sensitive information and the possibility of hacking.

The FBI investigated Clinton but ultimately found that no criminal charges were warranted. The State Department also investigated and found that her actions had violated department rules.

Other government officials, including Vice President Mike Pence when he was Indiana’s governor and several past secretaries of state, have also been found to have used private email for government work.

Ivanka Trump, speaking to ABC News on Tuesday, said “there’s no connection between” her email use and Clinton’s situation. President Trump has also defended her email use and last week told reporters that all of her correspondence had been preserved.

House oversight committee chairman Trey Gowdy, a Republican, has asked the White House for information related to Ivanka Trump’s private email use, while the head of the Senate’s Homeland Security committee, Republican Ron Johnson, sought a briefing on the topic.

Representatives for US Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee who is poised to lead the panel in January, said he will continue the investigation.

4. James Hird hurt riding bike in Melbourne.

Australian rules football great James Hird is suffering minor injuries after being hit riding his bike in Melbourne.

Hird, 45, was cycling when it’s understood a turning car collided with the bike on Burnley Street in Richmond before 3pm on Wednesday.


The car driver stopped at the scene, police said in a statement.

Hird was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

5. Fire danger not over yet in Queensland.

The bushfire crisis in Queensland has eased marginally with conditions downgraded from catastrophic to severe.

However, authorities are warning the state is not out of the woods with heatwave conditions gripping the central and north coast until at least Tuesday.

Thousands of Queenslanders were forced from their homes as firefighters battled up to 140 wildfires.

Schools were evacuated with many in the danger zone expected to remain closed on Thursday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland still faced unprecedented conditions and “unchartered waters we have not seen the likes of before”.

A fire at Gracemere, near Rockhampton, and a monster fire near Mackay remain “grave concerns” for firefighters.

Temperatures in central Queensland are again expected to soar but winds are expected to ease.

Interstate crews arrived on Tuesday to help fight an inferno in central Queensland that’s destroyed homes and burnt through at least 20,000 hectares of bush and farmland since Saturday.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll said conditions were still dire.

“Do not be complacent, we are not through this yet,” she said.