Australian PM announces paid leave for public servant firefighters

Sydney dads Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer were killed when a fire truck rolled as they fought bushfires in NSW

Sydney dads Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer were killed when a fire truck rolled as they fought bushfires in NSW

Another 200 firefighters battled blazes east of Adelaide in South Australia on Christmas.

NSW RFS said Monday that conditions had "begun to ease", giving firefighters a reprieve to "identify and strengthen (fire) containment lines".

Northern New South Wales and southern Queensland are experiencing record-breaking dryness, and very low levels of soil moisture threatens to slash national summer crop output for a second year by 52% to 1.24 million tons, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. New South Wales, the country's most populous state, suffered major damage from the devastation, resulting in the destruction of about 850 homes in the state.

More than 40,000 hectares (98,842 acres) were reported to have burnt across the state. It could take months for more accurate estimates to be generated by fresh satellite data, he said.

For a second day, protestors have gathered outside the prime minister's official residence in Sydney.

The areas of Australia devastated by deadly forest fires received temporary relief on Wednesday, but harsh conditions are expected to return this weekend.

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The death followed another fatality in South Australia on Friday, the result of a auto accident that caused a fire. He has also been likened to a flying superhero called "Bullshit Man".

Mr Morrison has faced heavy criticism for his response to the bushfires burning across Australia.

"The next few days are going to be very important to try and get (back burns) in place and then hopefully it won't be so much of a risk as we go into the next batch of warm weather, looking like Sunday-Monday into next week", he said.

The tweet prompted Morrison to issue a clarification on Tuesday.

I'm not saying pick a hose.

While traditionally Christmas is a day spent with family, roughly 2,000 members of the volunteer-based New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), will instead continue to defend lives and homes across the state.

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Hazardous smoke blanketed Sydney for days this month, heightening public anger and raising political pressure on the government to do more to battle climate change.

"They are involved in their local brigades, some of them, " Mr Morrison told reporters in Adelaide.

A Today show presenter took a subtle swipe at Scott Morrison this morning, sneaking in a cheeky comment at the end of his interview with the Prime Minister.

Meeting people at an evacuation centre in the country town of Mudgee yesterday, the Prime Minister was introduced to a Rural Fire Service volunteer named Jacqui.

A series of photo opportunities of Morrison with firefighters and animals affected by the fires was ridiculed on social media on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said while Christmas was a chance to spend time with families and celebrate, it was also a hard time for many people. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas.

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"I think we've lost five homes in the Ilford - Razorback - Running Stream area at the moment", he said.

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