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First home deposit scheme hits parliament

An election pledge to make it easier for first home buyers to enter the market has reached federal parliament.

Up to 10,000 first home buyers each year will only have to save five per cent of a deposit under the plan, with the federal government guaranteeing the difference between that and a standard down-payment of 20 per cent.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar on Thursday introduced draft laws to set up the scheme, acknowledging it had become much harder for Australians to enter the housing market.

The government will guarantee deposits through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, which has begun consulting with lenders about taking part in the scheme.

The consultation process will eventually lead to a panel of lenders.

NHFIC has called for all residential mortgage lenders wanting to make a submission to do so by October 3.

If passed, the first home buyers deposit scheme will begin on January 1 next year.

© AAP 2019

WATCH: Footage of Hinterland bushfire devastation released as residents return home

Residents have been returning to their homes in the Hinterland today as fire conditions ease significantly.

For those who have a home to go back to it’s a welcome relief, but for others whose homes have been destroyed it’s been a heartbreaking return.

11 homes were destroyed in and around Timbarra Drive at Beechmont on the weekend after the area came under heavy ember attack.

The historic Binna Burra Lodge down the road was also a victim of the blaze.

Lisa Groom’s home in Timbarra Drive was saved, but several others in her street were destroyed on the weekend.

“In our street of Timbarra Drive its been intense, we’ve lost a lot of houses, the residents are all coming back as we speak and its so good to have them back,” she told Nine News.

“Last night we were there at our end of the street pretty much by ourselves and it was very eerie, the fire brigade has been putting out spot fires overnight.

“For us, we are lucky because we literally walked back in, the fires gone on both sides of our house right up to our front door, saved by the firies twice I believe.

“Our neighbours, a tree between has come down, luckily onto their garage. We’re just about to catch up tonight and have a drink I think.”

WATCH: Queensland Police drone footage of bushfire damage in Beechmont

Cooler temperatures and calmer winds have allowed local fire crews to get some much needed rest while crews from other parts of Queensland and interstate continue work to strengthen containment lines.

Water bombing aircraft have also been continuing work in the Hinterland today.

There’s no immediate threat with all fires at an Advice level.

But conditions are set to worsen again on Friday with firefighters desperate to get the upper hand before then.

“That fire will continue to burn in a very inaccessible area for some time yet, but with the moderating conditions that will give us some opportunity to consolidate some containment lines” QFES Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said.

“That will be a going fire for some time and we’ll continue to see smoke in that Hinterland area for a long time, basically until we get some significant rainfall.”

Related: ‘Absolutely inundated’: donations flooding in for hinterland residents

Image | 7 News

Acting Premier Jackie Trad says despite an easing of conditions, people shouldn’t be complacent with things likely to get tricky again later this week.

“While the next two days might present a reprieve for our firefighters, while they are resting over the next couple of days, I do have to say that the conditions on Friday and Saturday and well into the middle of next week present new challenges,” Ms Trad said.

“We are expecting temperatures about 5 or 6 degrees above average starting on Friday which will dry out fuel loads across the State.

Bureau of Meteorology Forecaster Richard Wardle says the fire danger will ease further on Thursday before increasing again on Friday with some strong winds also forecast.

“The concern really should be in everyone’s minds that the fire danger ratings will increase to very high and that’s because of those increased temperatures.

“The good news is that even though we are going to see a south westerly wind burst like we did over the past weekend, we’re not expecting that to be as strong as we experienced over the last weekend.

“But still people should be mindful we will see a return to those very high fire danger ratings on Friday and over the weekend.”

Related: Canungra locals rescue hundreds of animals from danger zones

Image | 7 NEWS


A ‘spooky’ night for evacuated O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

The unprecedented bushfires burning in the Hinterland resulted in an unwanted historic event for O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat overnight – it had its first night with no guests in almost a century.

The popular retreat safely sheltered around 100 people yesterday evening, after authorities deemed the access road too dangerous to evacuate.

Once conditions subsided, the group – including police, guests and staff – were able to leave safely.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski says they were lucky the situation wasn’t much worse.

“Yesterday we had an incident where even the most trained can get caught out.

“We had 100 people at O’Reilly’s in the Lamington tableland and we sent police officers in there to evacuate them on an emergency alert.

“While the police were in there, the fire came through quickly and trapped them, so they returned to O’Reilly’s to shelter while we worked out what we were going to do.

“Fortunately for us, things changed in a way that we were able to get them out last night and all 100 people plus the 18 police who were in there came out safely,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

WATCH: POLAIR Vision of the bushfire threatening O’Reilly

It’s understood the retreat itself wasn’t under direct threat, though the Lamington National Park Road – the only access road to the top of the mountain- had been challenged in spots further down.

Retreat Manager Brendan Long told myGC today it was an unusual experience for the resort, though everyone involved handled the situation very calmly.

“The police were cautious so they asked us to enact our evacuation procedure, which we did.

“Staff and guests were terrific, and calmly and efficiently put that in place – so we made our way down to Canungra, and then found accommodation for everyone down here.

“We’re a bit fortunate that we’re surrounded by rain forest, that essentially doesn’t burn, so it’s very very unlikely that we’d ever have a serious fire issue up there.

“Last night would, have been the first night ever in 93 years that no one has been at O’Reillys, so it was a little spooky in some ways,” Mr Long told myGC at the Canungra base today.

Mr Long says the retreat is also home to around 85 staff members, and they’re all eager to get back up the mountain and back to work.

Image: Alexander Jung / Shutterstock.com

John Chardon found guilty of wife’s manslaughter

Gold Coast businessman John Chardon has been found not guilty of the murder of his wife but guilty of her manslaughter.

Chardon, 72, pleaded not guilty to killing wife Novy, who disappeared in February 2013 amid a bitter divorce battle.

Her body has never been found.

Chardon’s trial heard he was furious after receiving a letter from Novy’s lawyers about custody of their two children as she tried to finalise divorce proceedings.

The letter was received on the same day Novy disappeared.

The jury heard the couple wed in 2000 but the marriage began to fall apart in 2009 when Ms Chardon told friends her husband was having an affair.

They separated in 2012 but continued to live together while both dated other people.

The trial also heard John Chardon scared his wife so badly that she wet herself the night she went missing.

Chardon denies trying to hire hitmen to kill his wife in the years before her disappearance.

The jury retired on Friday to consider its verdict, returning this afternoon following nine hours of deliberations.

More to come

Three young boys allegedly behind northern Gold Coast arson attacks

UPDATE – Monday, September 9 @ 3.00PM: Three young children, the youngest just nine-years-old, are alleged to be behind two deliberate blazes on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

The fires were lit at the height of the bushfire emergency taking place in the Hinnterland which already had firefighters from across the Gold Coast stretched to the limit.

A small fire was spotted by a member of the public driving past bushland off Rifle Range Rd at Pimpama around 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

The man returned with buckets of water to extinguish the fire which thankfully didn’t spread.

Around 4.45pm, Police on Yawalpah Rd noticeed smoke coming from the western side of the M1.

They discovered a small fire burning in bushland just off Rifle Range Rd, south of Bull Rd.

Firefighters from the Ormeau Rural Fire Brigade were also made aware of the fire and were on scene quickly to put it out.

Following investigations, Police located three boys aged 9, 10 and 11

The two older boys will now be dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.

EARLIER – Sunday, September 8 @ 5.45PM: Police are searching for arsonists responsible for lighting two fires on the northern Gold Coast while emergency services were stretched battling the blazes in the Hinterland.

A small fire was spotted by a member of the public driving past bushland off Rifle Range Rd at Pimpama around 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

The man returned with buckets of water to extinguish the fire which thankfully didn’t spread.

Around 4.45pm, Police on Yawalpah Rd noticeed smoke coming from the western side of the M1.

They discovered a small fire burning in bushland just off Rifle Range Rd, south of Bull Rd.

Firefighters from the Ormeau Rural Fire Brigade were also made aware of the fire and were on scene quickly to put it out.

Image: QPS

Police are now appealing for anyone who saw anybody acting suspiciously in the area on Saturday afternoon.

They’ve slammed their actions, especially given the conditions currently being experienced across the region.

“Not only could this fire have had devastating consequences for the local community and wildlife it diverted first responders from frontline duties,” Police said in a statement.

“Arsonists who deliberately set fire to property are criminals and police will be relentless in investigating suspicious fires.  Under the Criminal Code, a person found guilty of arson may be liable to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  If someone is found guilty of unlawfully setting fire to a crop or endangering property by setting fire to something they may be liable to a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.”

Image: QPS

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.