Two Sydney school boys are among the seven Australians named as victims of White Island, & more in News in 5.

— With AAP.

1. Two Sydney school boys are among the seven Australians named as victims of White Island.

Sydney school boys Berend Hollander, 16, and his 13-year-old brother Matthew Hollander have been confirmed dead in the White Island volcano eruption, with their parents Martin and Barbara unaccounted for.

The boys were students at Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga on Sydney’s north shore, with the school’s principal confirming their deaths in a letter home to parents. has a copy of the letter which describes Matthew as a “vibrant member of the Class of 2023. He was involved in Cadets and representing the school in basketball, squash and debating.”

Berend (known as Ben) had a passion for AFL, cadets, CRU and baseball. “Ben was a compassionate and enthusiastic student with an interest in software design,” said the letter.

Among the other Australians confirmed dead are 53-year-old Gavin Dallow, with his step-daughter 15-year-old Zoe Hosking presumed dead.

Brisbane mother and daughter Julie and Jessica Richards were also named as victims by their family who remembered them as an adventurous pair who loved the outdoors.

Julie Richards and Jessica Richards
Julie and Jessica Richards are among the victims. Image: Facebook.

And the loss of three friends from Coffs Harbour - Karla Matthews, Richard Elzer and Jason Griffiths - was confirmed by their travelling companions late last night.

"We are incredibly saddened to have lost three of our closest friends," their friends Alex, Daniel, Ellie, Leanne, Paul and Samantha said in a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Mr Griffiths died in hospital after suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body in Monday's eruption while Ms Mathews and her partner Mr Elzer are among eight bodies believed still on the island where authorities say there is no sign of life.

New Zealand police have also listed Victorian woman Krystal Browitt as missing on the island.

All had taken a tour of White Island while on a cruise on the liner Ovation of the Seas which was moored 50km away on New Zealand's North Island.

Mr Dallow's father Brian questioned if his son knew of the risks of visiting the island, home to New Zealand's most active volcano.

"Gavin was always one for being fairly articulate on what he did," Brian Dallow said on Wednesday.

"So, I think if he had known there was a danger he wouldn't have gone on it.

"I'm pretty well sure they weren't fully informed of the danger."

New Zealand authorities will examine whether the White Island tour company were aware of any dangers or increased risks of an eruption.

Mr Dallow's 48-year-old wife and Zoe's mother, Lisa Dallow, remains in a critical condition in Hamilton with serious burns.

She is one of around a dozen Australians in New Zealand hospitals who the RAAF will try to transfer home for treatment on Thursday.

Many have critical injuries suffered in the intense heat and toxicity of the ash and volcanic gas from the eruption.

Friend John Mickel said the family of Ms Richards, 47, and Jessica, 20, were "united in grief".

"The family have asked me to describe Julie and Jess as being outdoor, adventurous people ... if there was an adventure that offered itself, then they would go," he said.

Fears are also held for the Langford family from Sydney.

Anthony and Kristine Langford and their daughter Winona, 17, are still unaccounted for. Their son Jesse, 19, has reportedly been identified as one of those being treated in hospital.

2. Greta Thunberg has been named Time's Person of the Year.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2019.

Thunberg, who turns 17 in January and who is known for her blunt, straightforward speaking manner, has urged immediate action to address what she describes as the global climate crisis.

Thunberg was lauded by Time for starting an environmental campaign in August 2018 which became a global movement, initially skipping school and camping out in front of the Swedish parliament to demand action.


"In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the president of the United States and inspired four million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history," the magazine said.

"Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg's pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year," Time said.

Thunberg continues to beat the drum, saying in Madrid on Wednesday that business and political leaders are misleading the public by holding negotiations that are not leading to real action against warming temperatures.

3. Thousands gather in Sydney to demand climate change action amid bushfire season.


Thousands have gathered in Sydney to demand climate change action in the midst of a devastating bushfire season which has destroyed more than 700 homes and seen smoke pollution blanket much of the state.

A sprawling mass of people crowded Town Hall on Wednesday evening, with one police officer at the scene estimating the number of protesters could exceed 7,500.

Some wore the face masks people have donned to cope with the smoke haze, while others brandished signs reading: "Denial is not a policy", "Less debate more climate action", "For my grandkids" and "Climate change is a public health emergency".

Protester Elise Vohradsky, from Western Sydney, said she was motivated to attend after seeing smoke shroud the city on Tuesday.

She said it was upsetting to see Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaking in Sydney about the government's religious freedom bill that same day.

"I went outside and couldn't even see anything, like it was just smog. I had to like put a scarf around my mouth and nose to just go to the shops across the road," she told AAP.

"There's so much devastation - and not just the people, the cities but the environment, the animals.

"I'm pretty angry about it all. I want to do something and I don't know what I can do."

Babette Robertson lives in Sydney but grew up near Wingham on the mid north coast, which has felt the impact of recent fires.

She said her family had been spared but some of their friends had lost homes.

"It's so devastating. I just find myself crying some days ... and dad just sends photos every day and it's just so heartbreaking," she told AAP.

She accused the government of ignoring the science of climate change and said she protested hoping she would be heard and people's concerns would be acknowledged.

"They don't listen to us," she said.

4. New Zealand orders 1.2 million square centimetres of skin to treat volcano burn victims.


A staggering 1.2 million square centimetres of skin will be needed to heal survivors of Monday's volcano eruption in New Zealand, and has been ordered from the United States.

Kiwi health authorities are currently caring for 29 survivors from the blast on White Island.

That's down from 31 on Tuesday, as one patient has died, and another will be airlifted from Wellington to Australia on Wednesday night.

For those that remain, the majority still require assistance breathing with airway support.

All have suffered burns requiring repair according to Peter Watson, chief medical officer at Counties Manakau Health.

"We currently have supply but are urgency sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand addressing temporary skin grafts," he said.

"We anticipate we will require an additional 1.2 million square centimetres of skin for the ongoing needs of the patients.

"These supplies are coming from the United States and the order has been placed."

Watson said the combination of volcanic gases had necessitated "rapid surgical treatment" than every day burns.

"Our surgical teams ... have been working around the clock, non-stop to expedite the initial surgical treatment of the patients," he said.

"This is just the start of a very long process for some patients for last several months."

Every survivor in a New Zealand hospital is now in one of the country's four specialist burns units.


The headquarters at Middlemore Hospital, in south Auckland, is hosting 11, eight are in Christchurch, six are at Waikato and four are at Hutt Valley.

Australia is also helping to provide skin.

The Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria and the New South Wales Organ and Tissue Donation Service have both sent 10,000 square centimetres of allograft skin.

5. Australia ranked worst of 57 countries in climate change ratings.

Australia is taking action on climate change, senior ministers insist, even if some people don't like the government's approach.

The nation has scored zero out of 100 on policy in the latest international Climate Change Performance Index.

It dropped backwards to 56th place in the world rankings according to the index, compiled by German research bodies Germanwatch and New Climate Institute and the global Climate Action Network.

And Australia's performance was marked "low" in two of four categories - greenhouse emissions and renewable energy.

Its rating was even worse in the other two categories - energy use and climate policy - where it scored a "very low" ranking.

The annual index comes as Australia comes under attack for using an accounting trick to meet its international climate change targets.

Senator McKenzie, who oversees an agriculture industry responsible for nearly 15 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions, is quite comfortable using "carry-over credits" to meet climate targets.


"We are taking strong action," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"People might not like the way we're doing it, but that's not to say that we're not actually doing it."

Overnight, Australia's energy minister called on other countries to reduce their carbon emissions in his major address to a UN climate change conference.

Angus Taylor also urged action on shoring up the legitimacy of the global carbon trading market, which some say is undermined by corruption.

"Here in Madrid, we need to finalise arrangements for Paris agreement carbon markets that give us confidence traded carbon units represent genuine emissions reductions," Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said Australia remained committed to the Paris agreement and was backing an unprecedented wave of clean energy investment.

Strong messages and targets alone would not address climate change, no matter how ambitious.

"The world needs action to reduce emissions and Australia believes technology is central to achieving this," he told the COP25 summit.

Mr Taylor called on delegates to finalise arrangements for carbon markets under the Paris agreement.

"The Paris agreement sent a powerful signal to the world that countries are serious about climate action," he said.

"Australia is committed to the Paris agreement."

Labor leader Anthony Alabanese said Mr Taylor and the government had no credibility on climate change and savaged plans to have carryover credits count towards emissions targets.

"We need real action on climate change and accounting tricks won't do it," Mr Albanese told media in Rockhampton.

"It is not surprising that the world is pushing back on that because they want Australia to fulfil our commitments."

The opposition leader, in the heart of Queensland coal country to win back blue collar votes, also said Adani needed to start creating the jobs it had promised out of its controversial Carmichael mine.

Australia has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of the Paris agreement.

However, government projections show more than half that target will be achieved through carryover credits from achieving goals of the Kyoto protocol.

Feature image: Facebook.