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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 31, 2019 9:00am-9:31am GMT

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this is bbc news. i'm simon mccoy. the headlines at 9am: thousands of people seek refuge on the beach and in the sea to escape bush fires in australia — military helicopters and the navy are deployed to help them. it's gut—wrenching. you don't know who's back there and who's not. you know, i can't... there was homes that i knew people in and ijust couldn't even hear to watch. former nissan boss carlos ghosn flees to lebanon, despite being under house arrest in tokyo on financial misconduct charges. the national living wage is to rise in april by 6.2% — four times the rate of inflation. heterosexual couples in england and wales will be able to enter into civil partnerships from today, giving them similar rights to people who are married. the government says it will raise concerns with the cypriot authorities, about the fairness
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of a trial of a british woman convicted of lying about being gang raped. and join me, andjoin me, sarah and join me, sarah campbell, for a look back at a busy royal year. there were plenty of headlines and a new addition, baby archie joined his pa rents new addition, baby archie joined his parents on the royal tour to south africa. a very good morning. devastating bushfires across large parts of australia have claimed two more lives. the latest victims, believed to be a father and son, died in new south wales. in the neighbouring state of victoria, thousands of people have been forced to seek refuge on beaches and boats after becoming trapped by advancing bushfires. residents and holidaymakers in mallacoota, in east gippsland, described how the morning sky
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was turned black by clouds of ash and embers. phil mercer reports. stuck in a nightmare. the sky in mallacoota turned a grotesque red, as strong winds pushed out of control bushfires towards the popular seaside town about 500 kilometres east of melbourne. thousands of people were trapped and sought shelter on the beach. some waded into the water to escape red hot embers that rained down. others fled by boat, but most waited patiently for the danger to pass, or for help to arrive. it's still a dynamic and dangerous situation, so we've got embers going into mallacoota at the moment. we've got 4,000 people on the beach there, that are being very well protected by our firefighters. the australian navy could be brought in to provide food, water, and power to communities isolated by the fires. once again, very hot temperatures
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and gusty winds have combined to make this another dangerous and destructive day. at least two people have died and several others are missing, as dozens of blazes rage in south—eastern australia. the authorities say that many houses have been lost. the new south wales rural fire service commissioner, shane fitzsimmons, says this is the state's worst bushfire season on record. the crisis shows no sign of ending. for many australians, the new year will bring more anxiety and fear. phil mercer, bbc news, sydney. well, we can speak to phil mercer now. he is in sydney for us. thousands of people are literally cowering on the beaches? in mallacoota that was
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certainly the case. in good news, the wind change has diverted the mainfire the wind change has diverted the main fire front that was threatening that beach—side community away from the centre of town. so it seems the danger has passed but the community is still isolated. in the last couple of hours, we have heard that the australian military is to send helicopters and navy ships to help with possible evacuations, notjust in mallacoota but in other seaside communities up and down the victorian and new south wales coastlines. so this is an escalating crisis. it began back in september and we know that about 12 people have now died. the authorities fear that the number of dead may well rise because of the sheer scale and ferocity of these fires. everybody exhausted, those firefighters, many voluntary, tackling these blazes and yet we are at the start of the fire season, in
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effect? the hottest months of the year here are traditionally january and february but already in the last couple of weeks we have seen australian temperature records tumble. so no one really knows what the next two or three months hold, except for more danger. what australia needs more than anything, more than the military, more than the efforts of volunteer firefighters and all of those things that are vitally important, but what australia needs more than most as fire drenching rain, flooding rain coming from the heavens to douse these blazes that burn with such ferocity. but if you look at the longer term weather forecast, that is not likely to happen for at least a month. it might not happen until february. so we are in the middle of a very long drought. temperatures today in parts of australia were above, as they have been for many days, above a0 degrees celsius. you combine that with the very strong winds and you have a horrible
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conspiracy are factors that is fuelling these fires and with no rain, it's likely to get worse. the authorities here in australia are calling on theirfriends in authorities here in australia are calling on their friends in the united states and canada for more firefighting support. so this is a crisis that shows no sign of ending. good to talk to you. phil mercer, in sydney. david jeffery who runs the wave 0cean b&b in mallacoota was forced to flee to the beach when the fires struck, and joins me now. just tell me, what is going on right now? well, it's evening now, so people are settling a little bit. behind us, it's still fire. fire trucks are filling up from the inland here, a bit of salt water. still trying to douse the fires. occasionally, another house goes, u nfortu nately. occasionally, another house goes, unfortunately. not just houses occasionally, another house goes, unfortunately. notjust houses but people we love and care about and it's their dreams going up in smoke.
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this is a beautiful, beautiful part of the world. we know the danger is when we live out in these areas. yes, it's been dry but these are eucalyptus forests. they've been selected by fires over many centuries. we know the dangers but the reality is we know it but we don't really know it. when it goes off, it's horrendous. i'mjust thinking, i don't want to ever go through this again. i think i'll go and live... fire... nothing prepares you for that bearing down, the fire front charging at a community. we are talking massive walls of fire coming straight at you. we had a000 people... let me show you, all along here, along the wall, along here,
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eve ryo ne here, along the wall, along here, everyone ready to dive into the water if it got here. it didn't. thank god we didn't get the fire balls hitting us here because we would have had mass casualties. thank god. it was answered, the prayer. thank you, jesus, you a nswered prayer. thank you, jesus, you answered us. even though it might not look like he has there could have been hundreds killed, if not more than that. we are lucky and thankful we've had a little bit of rain. we got the authorities here doing their bit, the government doing their bit, the government doing things with the militaryjust off here. they've been feeding us with pies and all sorts of things. it's still going on. some people are trying to go back out there to their homes, i'm tempted to as well because miraculously our bed is still standing, i don't know if you can see in the distance. i thought i was watching it burn to the ground today. we would have if i'd had to but i was finding it hard emotionally, watching other peoples homes. people i know and care about
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and trust. in small communities, when you have a thousand people... there is love and care. it is gut—wrenching to go through. i don't know how i can look these people in the eye, that my had survived and there is doesn't. ijust feel terrible. it's just there is doesn't. ijust feel terrible. it'sjust explosion there is doesn't. ijust feel terrible. it's just explosion after explosion. the whole side, this was after the initial fire front. explosion. the whole side, this was after the initialfire front. there was a sense of relief that we had survived. it looked like it was over then, that we could public go home and some people started to go back out over here but then there was a big section of bush here, called shady gully, that lit up and that's why i wasn't going because i knew if that got going, it was a death trap. just house after house after house after house after house, heading towards our property as well. i thought, there's no way it was going to survive. i threw up a prayer.
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thank god we are alive, that's the main thing. houses can be rebuilt. but its dreams. some people probably won't rebuild, i don't know. it's now getting evening. it's all starting to sink in a little bit. i don't know, we're not going to be the same. i believe the school has gone. other things i've heard, i won't repeat because i don't know if they are true. dave, can ijust say, it's utterly bizarre to be sitting here on the other side of the world come here we are between christmas and the new year. i'm talking to you ina and the new year. i'm talking to you in a place where people have lost everything and there is no prospect, frankly, of any improvement in the situation there, is there? the good thing is. my always half full, by the way. i'm a christian, it has to be, mate. the fire front came right over here, right? that's burnt, in the distance on the edge of town, if you go back, its forest, hundreds of kilometres. it had plenty of time to
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come through. i believe it's burned right through. the good news is, it's burned, it won't burn again, perhaps for a couple more years. all that stuff re—shoots, animals, koala bears. other ones will be gone. over here, we saw a jump. there is a mountain range, you can't see with the smoke but there is a mountain range. there are no homes over there, basically. there is a methodist ladies college but they have retreated, gone. it forest. 80 kilometres or 60 kilometres up, forest. that has jumped the highway and... you know... yeah, it's the other people i'm trying to warn. just don't let them take chances, 0k? it's just don't let them take chances, ok? it's just, they
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just don't let them take chances, ok? it'sjust, they are just don't let them take chances, ok? it's just, they are surreal. just don't let them take chances, ok? it'sjust, they are surreal. you can watch this on tv but it's another thing to be actually breathing and smelling that smoke, to look across and see all those homes that you know the people that are in them and there's not people in them but you knew people that owned them. devastated. dave, thank you very much for your time and our thoughts are with all of you as you go through this. davejeffrey, from mallacoota, thank you forjoining us. mallacoota, thank you forjoining us. thank you, just pray, pray. thank you. you are watching bbc news. the former head of the renault—nissan car company, carlos ghosn, has flown to lebanon, saying he could not get justice in japan. mr ghosn, who's spent nine months under house arrest on charges of financial misconduct, is believed to have arrived in beirut by private jet. in a statement, he described his treatment in japan as "political persecution", and said he would no longer be "held hostage" by what he called a "rigged japanese justice system".
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gareth barlow has more. carlos ghosn shouldn't have been able to leave japan. he'd surrendered his passport and was supposed to ask for a court's permission to travel. so when he unexpectedly arrived in lebanon, japanese authorities were stunned and left scrambling for answers. in a statement, mr ghosn said: it's a marked turnaround for a man once revered in japan. carlos ghosn was one of the great tycoons of the car industry.
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at one point, nissan, renault and mitsubishi were all under his control. he was a very powerful car executive who was particularly known for his efficient cost cutting, which saved nissan in essence, yeah, so a hard—nosed businessman, who seemed to have a very good touch in turning companies around. but all that changed in november 2018. following exhalations of significant acts of misconduct, —— accusations significant of misconduct, including under—reporting his pay, and the personal use of company assets, ghosn was arrested and faces trial injapan. the former nissan boss denies wrongdoing. his lawyers accuse the japanese government of conspiring against him, calling the prosecution's case politically motivated. nissan workers gave their reaction to the news he'd gone to lebanon. translation: i've seen
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a few media reports. there are some things that ghosn did that i didn't understand. i think he fled because he did something. whoever escapes — wins. i envy people with money. translation: as ordinary japanese citizens, we want ghosn to reveal the truth. we want him to appear in an appropriate place and speak with his own words. after decades of corporate success and a year of sensational headlines, carlos ghosn‘s story has taken a dramatic turn. where it will end remains unknown. gareth barlow, bbc news. our tokyo correspondent, rupert wingfield—hayes, has been following developements in japan. there must be some red faces there? very red faces. you can imagine this is very high case. it has involved someone is very high case. it has involved someone who is a household name here injapan, was once probably the most
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famous foreigner living in japan, working in japan for sub famous foreigner living in japan, working injapan for sub led the revival of nissan. last year, as the report said, he was arrested and this prosecution, this year long drama began. but the big question being asked today here i think is how on earth did carlos ghosn do this? he was under strict bail conditions, hit the house he was living and had security cameras in it that were supposed to be watched pretty much constantly by the police observers. he had his passport, it had been surrendered. in fact, his lawyer today said that he still has mr ghosn's passports. he is the citizen of three different countries and they are still in a safe in his office. the question is how did mr ghosn manage to slip away from his home, escape surveillance and, we guess, we don't know but we guess, go to an airport and get on a plane
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and leave japan? also red faces because someone and leave japan? also red faces because someone is high profile criticising the japanese judicial system, that will raise some eyebrows, won't it? well, it is again another big question that has been raised by the whole of mr ghosn's case. right from the beginning it has brought quite a lot of criticism and an examination of japan'sjudicial system of criticism and an examination of japan's judicial system which has been dubbed by some people, including advocates for reform here injapan as including advocates for reform here in japan as hostage just including advocates for reform here injapan as hostage just discussed and he was held for 107 days after his initial arrest. that period is used to interrogate suspects. a lot of people have been critical of that. then the charges against him, simon, are... they are strange. the initial charges against him were of underreporting his income, which many lawyers that i have spoken to here say it's not normally considered a criminal offence. then they brought new charges against
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him, including misuse of nissan company funds but we haven't yet, any of us outside the prosecutor's office, been able to see the evidence against mr ghosn, including his own defence team so we don't know how substantial the evidence of wrongdoing against him is. he has a lwa ys wrongdoing against him is. he has always asserted and his defence team have asserted that these are trumped up have asserted that these are trumped up charges, that it is a political case against him and that the reason why these charges were brought were to get him out of nissan, to sort of depose him. a palace coup against him by other executives inside nissan who conspired with the prosecutors to bring this case against him. that has been his allegation. we don't know the truth of that and now apparently we will not get to see the court case and the evidence against him. rupert, in tokyo, just under six hours to go but a very happy new year to you there. made him happy... he could have said something back to me but he didn't.
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there you go. you are watching bbc news. let's bring you our headlines this hour. thousands of people seek refuge on the beach and in the sea to escape bushfires in australia — military helicopters and the navy are deployed to help them. former nissan boss carlos ghosn flees to lebanon, despite being under house arrest in tokyo on financial misconduct charges. the national living wage is to rise in april by 6.2%, four times the rate of inflation. sport and for a full round up, from the bbc sport centre, here'sjohn watson. good morning, john. good morning, john. good morning, john. good morning, simon. it is a good morning this morning, i wonder if it will be tomorrow morning with that early start to come. we begin with football. football's rule makers have suggested the video assistant referee is being used too forenscially in the premier league. a number of contested offside calls has led fifa to consider a rule change to the offside law. lukas brud, the general secretary of the ifab, says there may need to be a re—adjustment around var
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and its use. he said when it comes to offside, var should not be "too forensic" and should only be used to reverse "clear and obvious" errors. david moyes had a strong response to any west ham fans unhappy with his appointment as manager. he said winning is what he does and that the club are getting a very experienced manager. west ham are 17th in the table, he'll be in the dugout for their game with bournemouth tomorow. well, i'd say that what they're getting here with me here is a very experienced premier league manager. arguably, there's only two or three who got more experience, games in the premier league. i think i've probably got the biggest win rate out of a certain amount of managers as well. so, i think if you're putting it that way, that's what i do, i win. and i'm coming here to west ham initially to try and get us wins and away from the wrong end of the table. david moyes arriving at west ham with a point to prove. rhys webb has signed
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a two—year deal to rejoin the ospreys from next season which could see him return to the wales international side. the scrum half is returning to wales after toulon agreed to release him from the final year of his contract for family reasons. he left ospreys in 2018 to join the french side for three years which ruled him out of test selection for his country, but his return will make him available to new wales coach wayne pivac. michael van gerwen is one match away from successfully defending his title at the world darts championship. the world number one is through to the final after beating nathan aspinall 6 sets to 3. van gerwen's trying to win the title for a fourth time. and you wont miss his oppoinent — peter wright who beat gerwyn price — this was a much frostier affair, after wright went over egging on his opponent after winning the first set. which he did not appreciate too much, as you can see. but price got his own back after winning the second set... ..letting rip with a huge cheer which was directed at wright.
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but wright kept his cool to win it. no handshakes at the end, though. i'm sure the final will be a more cordial affair. before we go, just to mention there is a illness update from england's cricketers in south africa. opener dom sibley is feeling better and is expected to train tomorrow after he was the latest member of the team to be affected by a bug in the camp. around 11 or so players affected. there is also live big bash from australia on 5 live sport extra — the new year's eve game between sydney thunder and top side adelaide strikers. you can follow that — find more on the bbc sport website. for now, back to you, simon. are you working tomorrow morning? i am. are you? working tomorrow morning? i am. are o working tomorrow morning? i am. are you? i'm not but i won't wish you happy new year because it willjust as grumpy as rupert. happy new year because it willjust as grumpy as rupertlj happy new year because it willjust as grumpy as rupert. i thought you might be there to brighten the day but sadly not. but i will be thinking of you, john. you better be watching! the government has announced
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that the national living wage will go up in april for workers over the age of 25, rising by 6.2%, the living wage from april will be £8.72 an hour. that's an increase of 51p an hour on the current rate. there's also a rise to the minimum wage for 21 to 2a years — going up to £8.20 — an increase of 6.5%. joining me now is our political correspondent mark lobel. new year cheer from the chancellor? yes, money in the pocket of low—paid workers in april. 51 p. this policy is about three months in the making. there was going to be an autumn budget in november but then we had an election so the chancellor has taken the opportunity to write an article in the sun for this new year cheer and rise not just article in the sun for this new year cheer and rise notjust a national insurance threshold rise, which i just help low—paid people in april but the rise he mentioned he says he wa nts to but the rise he mentioned he says he wants to level up across regions which have been neglected for so long. what could he be talking about? that new northern seats,
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surely. he talks about more police on fixing the cost of living the study says by getting brexit done it doesn't meanjust study says by getting brexit done it doesn't mean just passing legislation that helping people so they know the country works for them. now, opponents will be screaming, actually, you're just fixing problems that conservatives created through cuts. the reality is if you look at people in poverty, the amount of people in work in that group has expanded. there are 8 million people in working households in relative poverty today, or more than that. the government has a lot of work to do over the next few yea rs, of work to do over the next few years, in order to get that group of people, the people who are actually working, not in relative poverty. how many people will it affect? around 3 million people but the government because met planners by 202a, the time of the next election perhaps, a million people will be affected. it affects 25—year—olds, the national living wage. there is the national living wage. there is the minimum wage for those who are younger but it will be expanding to
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23—year—olds and then 21 and above or get the national living wage. the amount will go up 51p now but on average about a5p a year for about four years, until it gets to the point of £10.50, which they think will take that group out of relative poverty. that covers the private sector and the public sector and we are talking about bar staff, teaching assistants and catering staff that will mainly be affected. how are businesses responding to that, they will have to pay for it? a mixed response. the trade union general secretary frances grady says it should be a £10 minimum wage in april. it should go straight up. that was labour's policy in the last election. they would have had it for 16—year—olds and above the £10. on the other hand, the british chamber of commerce said some firms will suffer and basically small businesses want to see it phased in and just keeping an eye on employment figures now, the government are boasting about employment today that that might start levelling off, this hiring
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spree might not continue. if they don't think it is having a negative effect, they will want the government to go slower. the interesting piece of analysis from the economic analysts say and middle income households will most likely gain from this. the government say, there is an independent advisory commission, this is what they have said should happen and boris johnson, who has never knowingly undersold one of his policies as far asi undersold one of his policies as far as i can remember, said this is the biggest actual cash boost to this forced measure that helps the low—paid and he is welcoming it with open arms. mark, thank very much. the government says it will raise concerns with the authorities in cyprus about the fairness of a trial of a british woman convicted of lying about being gang raped. lawyers for the 19—year—old insist she was pressured by police into changing her story. they say she wasn't given a fair trial, and they plan to appeal. katy austin has been following the story. the young british woman at the heart of this case hasn't been able
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to leave cyprus sincejuly. yesterday, she was found guilty of making a false statement about a crime the country's law says was imaginary. her lawyers insist both the police investigation and the court process were flawed. they plan to appeal. the young israeli tourists who were originally accused of raping the young woman, were freed and allowed to fly home after she retracted the allegation. she says she only did that because she was put under huge pressure by police questioning when she was vulnerable. unusually, the british foreign office has made a public intervention. a spokesperson said the uk was seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees in what it called the deeply distressing case. it said it would be speaking to the cypriot authorities about it. we are glad the foreign office is finally assisting with the case. the foreign office should, we say, help british people when they get in trouble at a much earlier stage but
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we do welcome the support of the foreign office with this case. women's rights activists demonstrated outside court. they argue that the young woman is a victim, not a criminal. she told the sun newspaper the judgment was not a surprise, but she would fight it, saying one moment she was the victim, the next the accused. sentencing is due on the 7th of january. ajail term of up to a year is a possibility. katy austin, bbc news. thousands of heterosexual couples in england and wales are expected to enter into civil partnerships from today. it comes after a long legal battle agaist the law that had previously only permitted same—sex couples to become civil partners. our legal correspondent clive coleman reports. rebecca and charles are in a loving relationship and want to formalise their union without tying the knot. we saw ourselves as partners in life and we wanted to be partners in law. we felt a civil partnership best reflected the nature of our relationship. five years after being refused
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permission to become civil partners, today they will be among the first heterosexual couples to do so. a lengthy legal battle culminated in a unanimous supreme court ruling in 2018 that the law, which restricted civil partnerships to same—sex couples, was discriminatory and breached the couple's right to a family and private life. from today, the union will be open to the majority of the uk's 3.3 million cohabiting couples. many mistakenly think they have the same property, inheritance and tax entitlements to those enjoyed by married couples, but they don't. the government estimates as many as 8a,000 mixed—sex couples could become civil partners this year, thereby enjoying greater rights and protections within their relationship without having to get married. a new type of union for a new decade. clive coleman, bbc news.
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police are warning people not to attend new year celebrations on the river thames in london without a ticket, as the uk prepares to usher in 2020. more than 100,000 tickets have been bought for tonight's sold—out fireworks display, where approximately 12,000 fireworks are set to light up the capital's skyline when the clock strikes midnight. the metropolitan police is urging those without tickets to watch from home or attend other events in the city. hogmanay celebrations got underway in edinburgh last night. the festivities began in the city last night as around a0,000 people joined a torchlit procession which ended with them forming the shape of two humans reaching out a "hand of friendship". the events will end with the traditional firework display, with more than 3,600 fireworks being set off at edinburgh castle at midnight. now it's time for a look at the weather with carol kirkwood. we will usher in the new year with
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