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(generated from captions) On Black

Saturday, 173 lives were lost, more than 2,000 properties

destroyed and more than

hectares were burnt. Also

on ABC News 24, the federal

Coalition gets a boost as the

government's approval rating crashes much The Australian Boomers make it three straight

wins to move into the final. Good afternoon, you're Good afternoon, you're watching

ABC News 24. I'm Jeremy

Fernandez. A quick look at

tomorrow's weather, a wet and

windy day for most of the

eastern capitals, but mainly fine in Brisbane and Perth.

It's been 18 months since the

worst bushfire disaster in

Australian history swept across

Victoria, killing 173 people,

with late, lost and sometimes

non-existent warrants, towns and families were wiped

out. This morning the Royal

Commission into the disaster

delivered its final analysis, saying the cost of Black

Saturday was estimated at more

than $4 billion and its impact

has warned the risks associated will be felt for many years. It

with bushfires will and the events of with bushfires will increase

and the events of 7 February cannot be considered a one-off. The report made 67 recommended introducing a recommendations. It has

comprehensive approach comprehensive approach to considered evacuation so it is planned, evacuation so it is

whether it is likely to offer more protection than other options, encouraging people to relocate early, plans for assisted evacuation of

vulnerable people and emergency evacuation. The country evacuation. The country fire

fire should review and improve

its communication strategy as a

a program for identifying and matter of priority and develop

responding to black spots in

radio coverage. It recommended

new development be restricted

in areas deemed to be high fire risks, including a retreat and developments in areas of unacceptably high fire risks,

and a non-compulsory scheme where the government buys backhand. One of the backhand. One of the big

questions is whether the

recommendations of the Royal

That is up to Commission will be implemented.

That is up to the Premier

Brumby. He has given no

guarantees he will embrace all

the recommendations and says he

will consult with the community

before deciding what to do. Today we have received the report, which I have not yet

read. Today I will meet with

some of the bereaved families

and I will be given a preliminary briefing

department. It is important

that we all understand that the

steps that have been taken, all

place after the Ash the steps that were put in

place after the Ash Wednesday

fires, all of the work of successive governments, the doubling and tripling of funding under our government,

the reality is that on Black Saturday 2009 those systems

failed. 173 lives were failed. 173 lives were lost,

more than 2,000 properties were

destroyed and more than 400,000 hectares were burnt. As

Premier, I feel the full weight of responsibility to make sure

that we get our response to that we get our response to the commission's report right, to

make sure that we make our

state as safe as possible into

we take all of the appropriate the future, to make sure that

steps to ensure we can build a

strong and resilient and

fire-safe Victoria. I also know

that the people of our state want the opportunity to have some opportunity to have a say on Royal Commission. I know the the recommendations made by the

tens of thousands of CFA

volunteers, the SES volunteers,

the MFB firefighters and all

those in country areas want the

opportunity to have a say. They want the opportunity to be

heard by me and our government

before we formulate a final response. So I have said that

in the coming week, the next

week, I hope to be able to

release a response, release a response, an interim response to the commission's formulate a full and comprehensive response over

coming weeks. But it is

entirely appropriate, it is

exactly the right thing to do

to make sure that community across our state to make sure that we give the

community across our state the opportunity to comment on the recommendations of

recommendations of the Royal

Commission. I intend to

swiftly, I intend to

decisively in relation to swiftly, I intend to act

decisively in relation to the

Royal Commission's report. But

I intend to take the community with us. That is

ABC reporter James Bennett is in Kinglake, one of the towns

worth affected by the fires on

Black Saturday. Jails, what is the mood in Kinglake?

Certainly the mood has been one of quite some anticipation of quite some anticipation in

terms of just what the findings terms of just what the

will be, as to exactly how

what the events unfolded and, secondly,

what the recommendations will

be and what implications they

will have for the town and the will have

residents as they look to the

months and years ahead and to

what shape their town will

take. There are certainly some very very painful memories which are

brought up by such an occasion.

I was speaking with the mayor

before, and he said that were

this a hot, dry and windy day,

everyone would be on edge,

simply because it is the of thing which everybody simply because it is the kind

remembers and will also evoke

those sorts of memories. Another resident who had the

flipped through chance to read the report, he

related to the Kinglake fire and exactly how it started, and exactly how it started, and

he admitted to going a little

bit weak at the knees, just because because he was staring at the

very part which started very part which started the

fire which cost him his house

and the lives of several people

in his street. Certainly the mood is quite a subdued one because it has brought back quite a few painful memories.

The Victorian Premier John

Brumby is committed responding to the Brumby is committed to

recommendations, but not before

he has consulted with the Kinglake are getting have their say? Certainly Kinglake are getting ready to

there is quite some eagerness

to be involved in how things take shape. There are two take shape. There are two main

issues for people in terms of

how things progress from this

point. One is the idea point. One is the idea of warnings; certainly that

systematic failure which has

been spoken about is a point

echoed by the people we echoed by the people we have

spoken to so far. They say they

simply werp warned. While were told it would be a terrible day, nobody knew there

was a fire in the area. That is

one key point. The second one

is the idea of refuges and

evacuations and how they will be put into place, certainly

amongst people within the local council and within the

community there's a number of

unresolved questions as to how

people would get away and where

any refuges would be. We have

heard from various people in the bushfire affected areas

today that there is a degree of skepticism about whether adequately respond he to and implemented. What are you hearing? Certainly that is a concern. One of the people we spoke to was someone who had had the opportunity to give

evidence as a lay witness to

the commission and someone the commission and someone who works with a neighbouring council and works in the burning area, so burning area, so certainly

questions for a lot of questions for a lot of people, himself included, as to exactly himself included, as to exactly

what elements be ultimately

make their policy. Certainly for him the

burning issue has to what burning issue has to what areas

were burnt and how much of the

state is to be burnt in state is to be burnt in terms

of bushfire preparation burns

was a key one, and certainly

one that he was very hopeful

but yet, you're right,

distinctly sceptical would ever

see the light of day. James Bennett, we will Bennett, we will leave it

there, thank you. ABC

reporter Jane Cowan has

followed every development of the Royal Commission and has been reading the report. There

are 67 recommendations in it. The commissioners have not recommended that the

recommended that the stay or go

policy be completely scrapped,

that was something that was called for. They are saying

more that the elements of more that the elements of it

that work should be retained

and it should be improved upon.

They are staying that staying

and defending a home should be

retain as a Southbank choice

for less severe bushfire

conditions, but on days like Black Saturday there should be

a provision to recommend evacuation, including be part of the be part of the equation. Among the other more radical recommendations of the commissioners, they are

proposing that the government

adopt a retreat and resettlement policy, to developments out of areas that

are deemed to be at too are deemed to be at too high a risk of bushfire. They are

saying that would involve a voluntary buyback of land and also restricting new

developments in areas that are

deemed to be at just too high a risk. The commissioners are also saying that fuel reduction

burning should be drastically increased. They

of Victoria's forests should be burnt annually. At the moment, less than 2% is less than 2% is burn, so that is more than a effort they are calling for.

They have said the way the Fire Service $are funded should be

changed, that the method at the

moment of funding the serviced

partly through an charge on insurance premiums, should be

replaced with a property-based

tack. They are saying a monitor

should be put something akin to a Ombudsman, to monitor

to monitor the implementation of the recommendations, and

then report back to the

Victorian people in the middle

of 2012.

has criticised the former head

of the bushfire of the bushfire reconstruction and recovery authority

Christine Nixon for her Christine Nixon for her actions as the police Chief Commissioner on Black Saturday. Ms Nixon Ms Nixon admitted to the Royal Commission she had left the emergency coordination centre on the night of the fires to on the night of the fires to go

out to dinner with friends. out to dinner with friends. The commission expressed dismay over her actions and over her actions and her inconsistent evidence of the hear. She resigned as the head

of the bushfire authority a

fortnight ago. She spoke briefly to the media before

picking up her copy of

report. We have to see what

the report says. Hopefully it

will be a fair and balanced account of what happened, I

look forward to that. Going to the election campaign, the latest opinion polls shows a

remarkable change in momentum

in the campaign. In a stunning turnaround, the latest Nielsen opinion poll shows the Coalition seizing the lead election. The federal

Opposition Leader is in Darwin,

where he pledged $77 million to provide medical and dental care

for Defence Force personnel and their their families. He says there is not enough money in the

Budget to stepped it to everyone else. This is everyone else. This is an important sign today of our commitment to Australia's

defence families, their

husbands, their fathers, their wifs, wearing our uniform, they are

doing great work for us, and

the ones they leave behind

should never be forgotten, should never be forgotten, and they forgotten by the Coalition. In

battle lines you foreshadowed a broader healthcare scheme for

all Australians, why is it just

for Defence Force families

today? You can't say there is

not any money, because you are

prepared to spend $2.5 prepared to spend $2.5 billion on a corporate tax cut. on a corporate tax cut. The

point I made in battle lines is

that you can

the Budget when it is in massive surplus than you can

when it is in deficit. The problem is that the problem is that the current Rudd Gillard Government massively mortgaged our future and I don't believe it would be

responsible to do more than we

are currently doing at this

time. I point out that one of

the final acts of the Howard

Government was to introduce the

Medicare dental scheme. This is

proving very beneficial, particularly for older Australians with

that the Coalition is totally committed to. It's committed to. It's a scheme which the Rudd Gillard

Government is pledged to

abolish, has tried to abolish. We were only saved from its

abolition by the good work of opposition senators in the Upper House. The Opposition

Leader Tony Abbott. The Prime

Minister has also been busy.

Julia Gillard began her second day

day of campaigning in Perth by

joining families for a coffee

in east Victoria Park. She then went to toss

local football match. But it

has been overshadowed by a leak to theern newspaper, which to theern newspaper, which said

that when mirgd that when mirgd was Deputy PM

she showed scandalous disregard for national security by

sending a bodyguard to attend

meetings on her behalf. At a

media conference in Perth, Ms Gillard rejected those allegations and said voters

should be focused on Labor's

record. Let's be see clear about this, we're in a fight,

I'm in the fight of understand that, and I'm going to keep feeting every day to keep feeting every day of

this election campaign for what I believe in. I will be

fighting for my better economic plan against Mr Abbott's tiredness

tiredness and negativity. I tiredness and negativity. I

will be fighting fob jors, not

work choices. I'll be foipting for apprentices, not ending

trades training centres in schools. I'm going to be fighting for more doctors and

more nurses, not Mr October's

cutbacks to health. That's what

this election is about. Yes, I'm in the fight of my life, I

am a fightr and we are going to

be fighting every day between

now and election day. I would

say to Australians, imagine

waking up on 22 August and

there is Mr Abbott as Prime Minister with all of the Minister with all of the risks that that entails to our

economy for the future, with all

all the risks that entails to

jobs with the return of work

choices, with all of the risks that entails to investments in

education and health. Australians need

Australians need to think about who

Minister when they wake up on

22 August. I have the better

economic plan. We made the

right decisions when the global

financial financial crisis threatened, we

are standing here with the

right policies and plans to

keep our economy strong. The

former PM Kevin Rudd is

expected to spend at least the

weekend in hospital weekend in hospital after having his gal bladder removed.

Mr Rudd had surgery Mr Rudd had surgery overnight at the Mater Private Hospital after complaining of pains. after complaining of stomach pains. He campaigning next week. Mr Rudd indicated he will be indicated he will be available

to visit electorates around Australia to support the PM

Julia Gillard and the government. His

Rein spoke to the media a short

time ago. Late yesterday afternoon the doctor afternoon the doctor advised that it was really important

for him to have his gal bladder removed, which is removed, which is not a huge

operation but it is also not a

tiny operation. He is

recovering well. I am, encouraging him to take the

time that he is clinically

advised to recover. I'm hopeful

that he will be doing that. I

want to thank all of the staff here for their exemplary

professionalism and professionalism and their

kindness to him. I also want to

thank everyone for their kind

wishes and for the flowers that have arrived from all over have arrived from all over the

country. I'm sure he will be up on his feet within the next

couple of weeks. That's

wife of former PM Kevin Rudd,

Therese Rein. Still to come, all the all the day's sport with Amanda. Today's stop stories: Victoria's Bushfires Royal Commission recommended sweeping Royal Commission has recommended sweeping policy changes in response changes in response to Black

Saturday and has criticised the former Victoria Police commissioner Christine Nixon saying her performance on the

day left much to be desired. A copy of the report has given to Brumby, who says he Brumby, who says he will talk

to the communicate before

deciding what to do and will

respond to the report within a week. On the election week. On the election trail,

the PM shrugged off the

leak alleging she sent her

bodyguard to attend highly

bodyguard to attend highly sensitive security meeting on

her behalf. The Opposition

Leader has pledged an extra $77

million for health and dental

care for Defence Force families. A quick look at the

weather: Showers for the

capitals on the east coast,

mostly fine in Canberra and

Darwin, windy in Adelaide, partly cloudy in Perth, a late

storm for Darwin. Britain's

decision to join the US-led

invasion of Iraq has been under the spotlight at the Iraq Inquiry. The former Deputy PM John Prescott told

the inquiry he had doubts about

the reliability of intelligence reports in the lead-up to the

war. Lord Prescott described

some of the information

regarding the threat as tittle-tattle. He was Tony

Blair's loyal deputy for 10 years, privy to secret, smoothing over government rifts. Today politician formerly known as

John but now as the right

honourable Lord Prescott honourable Lord Prescott came to give evidence about Iraq. Lord Prescott said he had attended 23 war Cabinet

meeting, but had been part of

Mr Blair's inner circle, one of the informal decision makers, the so-called sofa government

snroo Were you on the sofa in

the first half of 2002? I was

on the sofaal the time, I took

a photograph of the sofa before I leaf, to remind myself. lead-up to the war and told the

inquiry he had had significant

doubts about the intelligence

reports upon which the case for

war was based The conclusions

were a little ahead of what the

evidence we had. But perhaps that's the way it is. What you

do in intelligence is a bit do in intelligence is a bit of

tittle-tattle and a bit more

information, and a judgment information, and a judgment is made. The made. The former Deputy PM said he never saw Mr Blair's private letters to President

Bush, neither had he

equivocal advice given then Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith about the legality of the invasion, but noticed how strained he became. Anybody

seeing Peter all through the

process, he was not a very

happy bunny. He was under

political pressure? He was

asked, you're a asked, you're a lawyer, can you

tell us whether or not it's legal?

legal? Peter answer would legal? Peter answer would be,

if you get the second

resolution in the UN, it would

be very clear. Lord Prescott done the right thing. I learn

that true leadership is not

about having the benefit of hindsight, it's about having

the gift of vision , courage

and compassion, and I that Tony Blair had all those

three. Lord Prescott was the

final public witness for the

time being. The inquiry has now

been going for 12 months and according to Sir John cot,

according to Sir John chill cot, it hopes to produce its

findings at the turn of the

year. The weekend sport with

Amanda. Collingwood is on its

It's been an impressive performance. The Pies are

putting on an AFL master class

against Carlton at the MCG. Collingwood Collingwood has been with the Blues only managing four goals early in the final

term. The Pies have been

relentless inside the Blues 50,

converting defensive pressure

into points. Leon Davis has had

a great game up front in a great game up front in his

200th match. It's been a complete all round performance

from the Pies, looking in

ominous form

the finals. At Footy Park,

Hawthorn has a slim lead over Port Adelaide. Port is eager Port Adelaide. Port is eager to

get its second win, after last week's victory over the CEOs. Some of the highlights from the

Some of the highlights from the

game. You couldn't have dreamt

of this start, Matthew Primus,

two minutes and two goals. Roughhead centres Roughhead centres it, Rioli bounces it and is going to go.

This is like shelling peas for him. Rioli, ridiculously easy. Young on to it, Mitchell

threads it to the goal line, it's

it's rolling, it's there. Scald coach Ross Lyon has

slammed his team, following its upset loss to Essendon last

night. The third placed Saints looked more like a bottom 4

team in their 33 point loss.

in the opening term. They

continued to bill the pressure continued to bill the pressure

and took a 37-point lead into the main the main break. Monfries kick 4

goals in the win. There are

two games tonight, with the Swans desperate for victory

against the Cats at Sydney's

Olympic Stadium and Brisbane hosts Melbourne at the Gabba. Bulldogs halfback Brett

Kimmorley says he is still uncertain where he will play

next year, after master Canterbury's win over South

Sydney in the manager last

night. He had a hand in three

tries in its upset win over the Rabbitohs. The Penrith Panthers

had a crucial win over the

North Queensland Cowboys after

three consecutive losses. The

Cowboys handled the slippery conditions better than the home

team, taking a 6-point lead

into the break. The momentum

turned in the second half turned in the second half and

even though the Panthers were

denied a try, they storm home to take the win. converted tries in the first

half gave the Bulldogs an 18-6

half-time lead at the Olympic

Stadium. Chris Sandow did list best to keep the Rabbitohs in the competition

the competition but the Bulldogs were too good and have an outside chance of an outside chance of making the finals. Tonight the palm Eels

are hoping for another inspired

performance from Jarryd Hayne

when they host the when they host the Sydney Roosters. Wests Tigers will be overwhelming favourites for

their slash against the Cronulla Cronulla Sharks. The

Australian men's basketball

team is one win away from

defending its title at the

championships in China. If the

Boomers can reproduce their form of the past week, an elusive world championship

medal may not be out of reach.

Without Andrew bow Garratt,

the Boomers have relied on

Patrick mills to provide a


point last night as the Australians joust lasted Iran.

The Boomers will play shrove Iana tomorrow night before heading to Turkey for the world championships. This is not a

sight that would please the Australian cricket team.

Bowled him! Jimry Anderson ripped through the Pakistan

line-up on day 2 of the first Test. What a delivery! He's

given it. The old enemy also

looks to have unearthed a new

this summer's Ashes. Edged and

caught, his first wicket. Finn caught, his first wicket. Finn took three wickets and Anderson five. He's caught it at five. He's caught it at the

second grab. As the Pakistanis were reduced to 9/147, still

207 runs behind at stumps.

Even the world's best can be

reduced to hackers in the rough

at royal berk detail. This is

sad to see. Defending China

Katrina Matthews British Katrina Matthews British Open

campaign landed in deep trouble

on the 13th

eventually record'd 10 on the par 4 and missed the par 4 and missed the cut.

Taiwan's golfer leads by four strokes heading strokes heading into the

round. To Rugby Union, the

Wallabies will need to break a longstanding drought if they

are to beat the All Blacks in

their Bledisloe Cup their Bledisloe Cup match tonight. They have not won the

trophy in their last seven out, and tonight will be without quite Cooper, with Matt Giteau returning to fly half. The All

Blacks are the benchmark in

world Rugby. Red Bull is again dominating proceedings in the

Formula One. Australia's Mark

Webber clock the second and

third fastest times in free practice, practice, while Sebastien

Vettel was fast est in sessions. Fernando Alonso was

not far behind. Australia's

Samantha Stosur is Samantha Stosur is through to

the semifinals of the WTA event

in California, and compatriot jam illa the semis of the Istanbul the semis of the Istanbul Cup. Time for a check of tomorrow's weather. Cloud weather. Cloud extending from the interior east, and a trough is

generating patchy rain. Clouds

over Tasmania and Victoria in gusty westerlies caused by

scattered showers. A cold front

will surge through the east, spreading

spreading showers across the

south-eastern states and a

trough will help rain develop

in the Queensland, light showers over the Central Coast and southern

tropics. Morning fog tropics. Morning fog patches

and drizzle over the east and drizzle over the east coast

north of business. In

the western slopes of the

central and southern ranges as

well as the Riverina, snow will

develop above 900m on the

southern ranges later. Showers

should become extensive in

Victoria's southern and

mountain areas with local hail

and thunder developing. Moving

south to to, rain is expected

about the north

about the north and west, with isolated morning thunderstorms

about the west. In South Australia, showers will ease

over the agricultural areas but possible storms about the southern coast. Isolated showers and storms expected across parts of Western Australia's interior and

coastline. In the Northern Territory, isolated showers

should clear from the north and

east coast, cloudy with light rain in the north-west Alice

Springs district. Looking

ahead, an overcast Monday for most capstals, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart. I'll be back with

more news in about an more news in about an hour.

Before that, it's time for 'Four Corners'. You are

watching ABC News 24.