England in despair after Ashes disaster

Doom, gloom and despair surrounding the English cricket team this summer has reached its lowest ebb with those back home waking to scathing headlines and more calls for change.

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Alastair Cook’s men were likened to a pub team in the wake of the 281-run loss at the SCG, completed in woefully submissive fashion and arguably England’s worst failure of only the third 5-0 Ashes whitewash in history.

The performance was met with predictable dismay by past England players and pundits in the UK media, with some calling it the nation’s biggest sporting humiliation.

“For its scale, speed and brutality, this was the most spectacular implosion in the modern history of English sport,” said the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Ian Botham, the man who predicted England would enjoy a 5-0 series victory, lashed the team’s “spineless” display.

“Watching England throughout this series has been little short of torture,” he wrote in The Daily Mirror.

Michael Vaughan termed it “pathetic” and accused the team of throwing in the towel while David Lloyd said England were “like a pub team” after tea on the final day.

Geoffrey Boycott called it “one of the most depressing and humiliating days for English cricket”.

“This has been the worst defeat, because it’s happened in three days. We just collapsed. We almost gave up,” wrote Boycott in his Daily Telegraph column.

Boycott said the fact Australia had a good, not great, team made it even more humiliating.

“The last whitewash was achieved by a team containing Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist. They had three once-in-a-lifetime players and there was no shame in losing 5-0 to them,” he said.

“But we should be ashamed and embarrassed to lose so abjectly to this lot.”

Former captain Vaughan accepted the result was on the cards when the final Test started on Friday, but was shocked by the manner of the defeat.

“It was always going to happen but there’s a way to lose,” Vaughan told the BBC.

“I have never seen an England team throw in the towel, but they did this afternoon.

“Andy Flower has not evolved this team as he should have done.

“Things have to change in personnel and things have to change in terms of how they play their cricket.”T

Flower and Cook did receive some support in the media.

Former Test allrounder Paul Collingwood said: “I still think Cooky’s the man for the job. I’m sure this has hurt a lot but you’ve got to move on and have that determination to put things right for the future.

“What Andy Flower has done for English cricket has been incredible. He’s a real leader and certainly the man I would have at the top to take England forward.”

Former captain Nasser Hussain labelled the series an “unmitigated disaster” for England and Cook but also threw his support behind the besieged skipper.

“He has to get better as a leader and come back stronger,” Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail.

Liverpool boss Rodgers ends son’s FA Cup dreams

“It’s brilliant, I’ve seen Anton’s life from when he was a young footballer and to see him run out there was a bit surreal really,” Rodgers was quoted as saying by British media.

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“He’s a great kid and we’re very proud of him as mother and father. He’s having a good career and Oldham are a brilliant club for him, they really look after him well. They’ve got an outstanding young manager who will go on to do really well and he’s got a young team and they’ve got a great spirit.

“I’ve seen them a number of times and Anton’s obviously playing a part in that. It’s a great moment in his career and, as a father, it’s even more special that he gets a nice round of applause from the Liverpool supporters as well.”

Rodgers had shuffled his pack for the Oldham clash and left Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva on the bench but all three came on in the second half as the visitors frustrated the seven-times winners in a flat opening period.

Iago Aspas broke the deadlock for the hosts in the 54th minute with his first for the club before Raheem Sterling’s shot went in off James Tarkowski with eight minutes remaining to make the game safe.

The victory sent Liverpool through to the fourth round where they will face either second tier Bournemouth or fourth tier Burton Albion away at the end of January.

Meanwhile, Oldham return to a relegation scrap and have a home match against Stevenage Borough to look forward to on Saturday.

Their manager Lee Johnson said he also felt pride despite his side failing to match last year’s 3-2 win at Boundary Park.

“We worked our socks off first half, we broke well and got ourselves into areas where we had shot,” he said.

“We had corners, free-kicks … so we certainly weren’t just parking the bus. I thought our boys showed energy, particularly when we went 1-0 down. For a 20-minute period you may not have known who was the Premier League side.”

The 32-year-old former Bristol City midfielder denied sentiment played a factor in the introduction of Anton Rodgers, an Ireland Under-19 international who has also played for Brighton and Hove Albion and Exeter City.

“He deserved it,” Johnson said of the young midfielder who joined in July and has made 13 appearances this season.

“I didn’t do it because it was Anton Rodgers, he’s played in the Cup and the games before and he was magnificent in the game against Wolves (Wolverhampton Wanderers)- probably one of the best displays all season when we beat them 2-0 away.

“I wanted to go with a group that deserved to play at Anfield, he certainly deserved his minutes.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Co-pilot dead in US private jet crash

A co-pilot was killed and two pilots injured when a private jet crashed and burst into flames at the airport that serves Aspen, the exclusive US skiing resort.

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Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the casualties after the plane smashed into the runway at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in the state of Colorado.

“Three on board: one fatality, one serious and one minor injuries,” Pitkin County under-sheriff Ron Ryan told AFP in an email.

The victim was identified as 54-year-old co-pilot Sergio Carranza Brabata of Mexico, according to media reports which said the two survivors were pilots.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane was a Bombardier Challenger 600, a 22-seater aircraft travelling from Tucson in Arizona to Aspen.

It crashed while attempting to land, Kenitzer confirmed.

Photographs of the crash site on the website of Denver NBC television affiliate KUSA TV showed the blackened overturned fuselage of the plane on a snow-blanketed runway.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but tracking information from website FlightAware.com suggested the plane circled the airport three times before going in for the landing.

Aspen is a popular winter holiday destination beloved of celebrities. The comedian Kevin Nealon and the singer LeAnn Rimes both posted Tweets after witnessing the crash.

“Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet,” wrote Nealon, best known for his recurring role in the television black comedy “Weeds”.

“Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles still at scene. No word on survivors or who was on jet but I can’t imagine there are survivors,” Nealon wrote on Twitter.

Rimes added: “So sad. Horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport.”

NZ shares slip on earnings worries

New Zealand stocks have fallen amid speculation the impending earnings season may show the impact of a high kiwi dollar.

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The NZX 50 Index fell 7.730 points, or about 0.2 per cent to 4833.058 on Monday. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 12 rose and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $91.7 million.

Earnings season begins in earnest this week.

SkyCity, which is due to report on Wednesday, fell 1.6 per cent to $5.74. In December the company, which has casinos in Adelaide and Darwin, said first-half profit will fall due to the strong kiwi against the Australian dollar.

“What concerns investors really is the effect of the strong kiwi against the Aussie, which will start to impact on earnings,” said James Smalley, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

“But it will also be in the company’s guidance going forward. The onus will be on companies that have significant Australian exposure to work with the strong kiwi.”

Fletcher Building, which counts Australia as its No.2 market, slipped 0.2 per cent to $8.98, while Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International lost 1.4 per cent to $1.38.

Clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson fell 4.9 per cent to $2.90, its lowest price in more than four years.

As the election draws closer investors also consider the potential for some companies to come under increased regulation, a particular concern for the energy market, Mr Smalley said.

Auckland lines company Vector fell four per cent to $2.38 and Mighty River Power declined 0.8 per cent to $1.975.

Auckland International Airport gained 0.8 per cent to $3.69 and Air New Zealand rose 1.5 per cent to $1.705.

Telecom rose 2.2 per cent to $2.375.

OceanaGold was the index’s best performer on the day, gaining 3.8 per cent to $2.45.

Woodchips to replace welfare for Tiwi

Through the smoke, the silhouettes of a dozen painted Tiwi Islander men dance forward in deliberate, traditional steps to present a message stick to two Japanese businessmen.

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The message is clear: the remote Northern Territory community is ready to do business.

It’s a slogan the NT government has been trumpeting for 18 months, and on Monday in Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, about 80km north of Darwin, several hundred community members witnessed the pay-off, as a memorandum of understanding was signed with Mitsui & Co that will see up to $200 million flow to the Tiwi over the next five years.

The multinational company is Australia’s third largest woodchip exporter, and the deal will enable NT woodchip to be sold to customers in Japan, India and China, and 100 local jobs created.

“This is a day that belongs to Tiwi and others who have believed in our strength to manage our land and to create our own resource upon these islands, and to give us jobs and opportunities that (are) truly our own,” chairman of the Tiwi Land Council, Gibson Farmer Illortaminni, told the community.

“We’re able now to contribute to the security and wellbeing of our people.”

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles said the Tiwi people had spent more than $9 million of their own money on the management of the plantation, which they took on in 2009, and said the partnership will give them some return on that investment.

The Tiwi-owned Tiwi Plantations Corporation manages 30,000 hectares of acacia mangium on neighbouring Melville Island, and will export 3000 hectares a year from a new port there from April.

The Tiwi have a vision to create a private economy, general manager Roger Smith said.

“It’s a commitment to create jobs for their children and grandchildren and income for their communities,” he said.

The MOU is the first step to bolster Tiwi economic confidence, Mr Giles said, and the government is looking into opportunities for further expansion of the fishing, mining and tourism industries in the area.

“Tiwi people are taking control of their own lives … (you) should be proud of the way things are moving forward,” he told the community.

“I want to see others follow in Tiwi footsteps right around the Territory.”

The NT government has been pursuing stronger trade ties with Japan, culminating in two visits by the chief minister last year.

“This is the first investment by Mitsui in the Northern Territory and it happens to be on Aboriginal country with the Tiwi people; that’s a great, outstanding success,” he told reporters.

“A stimulation in economic development, a growth in jobs, and starts that transition from welfare to work – that’s what we all want to see.”

Mr Farmer, who began working in forestry at the age of 17 about 40 years ago, said it was crucial for young Tiwi Islanders to recognise they had a viable future at home and stressed the importance of a move away from welfare dependency.

“We’ve got to get our young people off Centrelink, because there’s jobs out there for our people,” he said.

SBW can get even better: Robinson

Sonny Bill Williams can have an even bigger impact on the NRL this season than his premiership-winning feats of 2013, according to Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

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In his return to rugby league after a four-year absence, Williams was a key figure in the Roosters’ premiership win last season and was rewarded with selection in the world team of the year.

This season could be his last in rugby league and, with his reintegration into the game complete, no pre-season boxing bout and no injury concerns – a shoulder injury interrupted his 2013 preparation – the Roosters are quietly confident Williams will become an even better player this year as they defend their NRL crown.

“Sonny will be hoping for that; we will be hoping for that,” Robinson told AAP.

“You don’t underestimate Sonny no matter what circumstances lead him into a competition or a code. He has enough grit and determination to make anything work.

“We are really focused on getting better as a team and I’m sure he is as an individual.

“We are not done – we want to keep improving.

“Sonny can build on what he did last year.”

This time last year, opinion was divided on how Williams would fare after defecting to rugby union but the Kiwi dual international more than answered his critics with some memorable performances.

Williams has committed to New Zealand rugby for two years at the end of this season, which means the constant speculation that swirled around his future last year won’t be a distraction for the Roosters in 2014.

“He has been really clear and honest about what he is doing this year and what he wants to do next year so that speculation won’t be there this year,” Robinson said.

“Whatever he decides to do, he will do. Whatever challenges him, he will decide to do.

“It’s perfectly honest – he doesn’t short-cut any team he signs on for. He gives it 100 per cent.

“People have different views about the way of signing those one-year contracts but he challenges himself and he challenges the team he goes to, so I think it is an admirable thing that he does.

“Sonny will create enough headlines this year, but that is what we want in our code. We are grateful to have him here at the Roosters for another year and I think the code should be as well.”

RoboCop knocks Wolf from No 1

Australians were feeling nostalgic over the weekend, with the new RoboCop reboot pushing The Wolf Of Wall Street from its top spot on the Australian box office.

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Last Vegas came in third.

RoboCop, a remake of the 1987 film of the same name, stars Aussie Abbie Cornish as the wife of Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – the man who becomes RoboCop in 2028.

According to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, the action flick earned $2.281 million at the Australian box office, narrowly edging out Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, which took $2.241 million.

In third place was new comedy entry Last Vegas, starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as four mates who head to Vegas to party when the last bachelor of their group finally decides to tie the knot.

Other newcomers didn’t fare quite as well. The biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom came in fifth, while drama/romance Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, took ninth spot.

However, their arrival pushed films such The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit out of the top ten.

The Steve McQueen film 12 Years A Slave and The Book Thief, starring Geoffrey Rush, dropped two places to fourth and fifth respectively. Frozen and Philomena, both in their seventh week at the box office, came seventh and eighth.

Rounding out the ladder was Saving Mr Banks, which fell five places, but clung onto 10th place.

TOP 10 FILMS FOR THE WEEKEND OF JANUARY 30 TO FEBRUARY 2:

1. RoboCop – $2.281 million (Sony Pictures)

2. The Wolf Of Wall Street – $2.241 million (Roadshow)

3. Last Vegas – $1.640 million (Universal)

4. 12 Years A Slave – $721,272 (Icon)

5. The Book Thief – $649,499 (Fox)

6. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – $569,119 (Roadshow)

7. Frozen – $495,308 (Walt Disney)

8. Philomena – $432,221 (Eone/Hopscotch)

9. Labor Day – $331,560 (Paramount)

10. Saving Mr. Banks – $291,430 (Walt Disney)

Trial begins over WA road rage death

A 36-year-old man was allegedly in a “drug-fuelled road rage” when he crashed his utility into a vehicle, killing a Perth fireman and father-of-four.

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Rodney Allen Beard is on trial in the West Australian Supreme Court charged with manslaughter and doing an act likely to endanger the safety of another person over the death of 51-year-old Mark Noormets in December 2012.

Beard had allegedly been involved in a road rage incident with Doug Wormall, ramming his car several times, but losing control of his ute and veering onto the wrong side of the road, striking the victim’s car.

In her opening address, prosecutor Laura Christian said two men were minding their own business when they encountered Beard on the road.

“Both would become victims of his speed-fuelled road rage,” she told the jury.

Ms Christian said Mr Wormall was terrified and had tried to call triple-zero during the chase, while Mr Noormets died at the scene and Beard’s leg was injured in the crash.

A blood test showed Beard had methylamphetamine and amphetamine in his system, she said.

Alan Feast, 46, testified that he had been a methylamphetamine user for 20 years and bought his drugs from the same woman as Beard.

He said Beard picked him up from a tavern the night before the crash and seemed “off his face”.

“He was agitated and angry,” Mr Feast said.

Asked how he knew Beard had been affected by drugs, Mr Feast replied: “You just know after so long (using).”

Mr Feast said Beard was honking his horn at road users and driving erratically at 140km/h on a highway that night.

The trial continues.

Durant nets 41, Thunder drop Knicks in NBA

The match-up between NBA top scorers, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, turned out to be a mismatch.

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Durant put on another MVP-calibre performance with 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists on Sunday, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to their ninth straight home victory, 112-100 over the visiting New York Knicks.

“He makes it look easy,” said Anthony, whose 27.4 points per game is second to Durant’s 31. “When you get it going like that, it’s hard to stop it.”

Durant also sparkled on the defensive end, helping to limit Anthony to a season-low 15 points.

“In order for us to be a good team I have to be a two-way player. I realised that these past few years,” Durant explained. “I just try to play as hard as I can by using my length and my quickness to my advantage.”

Reggie Jackson scored 19 points while Serge Ibaka added 16 for West-best Oklahoma City (41-12), who shot 54.8 per cent from the field en route to their 13th win in 15 outings.

Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton netted 16 points apiece to pace the Knicks (20-31) who were victimised by Durant in their eighth loss in 10.

“He’s a tough cover, great scorer, makes good decisions with the ball,” Knicks Iman Shumpert said. “He made tough shots today.”

Durant had 19 points at halftime and the Thunder led 58-53, that extended to 86-78 entering the final frame.

The Knicks drew to within 92-86 on free throws by Tyson Chandler with 8.5 minutes left. Durant, however, drilled a three-pointer and the Thunder never let the lead dip below eight.

Elsewhere, rookie Victor Oladipo scored 13 of his 23 points in the final quarter and deflected Paul George’s potential game-winning jumper in the closing seconds, as the lowly Magic (16-37) stunned the league-best Pacers for a third straight win.

George scored 27 points for visiting Indiana (39-11), who blew a 17-point third-quarter cushion to snap a four-game winning streak.

The LA Clippers downed Philadelphia 123-78 and celebrated the return of All-Star guard Chris Paul by punishing the visiting 76ers for their biggest blowout in franchise history.

Paul finished with seven points, eight assists and four steals in 23 minutes in his first action after missing 18 games with a shoulder separation suffered on January 3.

The Chicago Bulls beat the LA Lakers 92-86, the Brooklyn Nets accounted for the New Orleans Pelicans 93-81, the Washington Wizards defeated the Sacramento Kings 93-84, the Dallas Mavericks were 102-91 winners over the Boston Celtics, and the Cleveland Cavaliers prevailed 91-83 over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Urban Melb needs fire education: premier

Premier Denis Napthine says more bushfire education and refuges are needed for communities on Melbourne’s fringe after homes were lost in Victoria’s fire emergency.

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Seven houses have been confirmed completely destroyed with the main impact on property happening in Melbourne fringe suburbs Gisborne, Mickleham and Warrandyte.

The Mickleham Road blaze in the city’s north remained the most dangerous fire in the state throughout Monday.

Dr Napthine said the government needs to look at more refuges on Melbourne’s fringe.

“We certainly need to look at the opportunity for safer places and refuges in outer urban areas,” he told ABC Radio.

Victoria has four registered community fire refuges, three of which were opened as part of a pilot program following the royal commission into the Black Saturday blazes.

After visiting fires at Gisborne, Warrandyte and Mickleham on Monday, Dr Napthine said the situation in Mickleham remained very active and dangerous.

He also has railed against people who deliberately lit fires on Victoria’s worst bushfire risk day since Black Saturday, saying he couldn’t stomach the thought of it.

At least 14 grass and scrub fires lit during the height of the emergency on Sunday are being probed by arson squad detectives.

So far they have found nine were deliberately lit.

“To think of any lighting of fires on days like yesterday is just absolutely unbelievable in the extreme,” Dr Napthine said.

“I can’t imagine who would do such a thing.

“Putting lives at risk in those circumstances, and putting the lives of our firefighters at risk is something I just cannot stomach.”

Dr Napthine said it was premature to make any conclusions about investigations into the source of blazes.

The community has learnt a lot of lessons since fires destroyed 1886 homes and killed 173 Victorians five years ago, Dr Napthine said, but he stressed continuing education was needed.

“Radiant heat can and does kill,” he said.

“People in some of those outer urban areas need to better understand how you need to dress appropriately with safe clothing on.

“If you’re going to be involved anywhere near the flame, dress appropriately.”

Tokyo stocks close up 1.77%

Tokyo stocks rose 1.

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77 per cent, tracking gains on Wall Street as investors took a positive view of last week’s below-forecast US employment report.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 index added 255.93 points to 14,718.34, while the Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 1.27 per cent, or 15.14 points, to 1,204.28.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that the economy added 113,000 jobs in January, far below the 175,000 forecast.

However, analysts said the report did include some upbeat news, such as a rise in labour force participation and a drop in the overall unemployment rate.

The news boosted Wall Street, with the Dow jumping 1.06 per cent, the S&P 500 up 1.33 per cent and the Nasdaq 1.69 per cent higher.

“The labour data certainly weren’t convincing enough to warrant strong confidence in the US economic recovery, which could have simply meant that US shares were oversold and ready for a rebound,” Daisuke Uno, strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“(New US Fed Chair Janet) Yellen’s testimony before the Senate is going to be under scrutiny for how the data are being officially interpreted.”

Investors will be keeping a close eye on her comments for clues about the Fed’s plans for its stimulus program, which has been credited with buoying global equity markets.

In share trading, Sony rose 0.65 per cent to 1,702 yen and Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing jumped 2.96 per cent at 37,335 yen.

Toyota closed up 1.59 per cent at 5,994 yen. After the market closed the firm said it was terminating production in Australia.

Automaker Nissan rose 0.11 per cent to 885 yen ahead of the release of its nine-month earnings.

In forex markets, the dollar was at 102.43 yen, up from 102.30 yen in New York on Friday.

Victorian coalmine fire top priority

A coalmine fire that could threaten Victoria’s electricity supply is the priority for emergency services as they continue to battle blazes across the state.

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The fire at Morwell, 130km east of Melbourne, is in the open-cut pit of the mine supplying the Hazelwood Power Station.

The escalation of the Morwell blaze came as Victoria’s police chief commissioner Ken Lay revealed at least a dozen fires were suspected of being deliberately lit.

Victorian Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the Morwell fire, which has destroyed several homes and is burning through logs and woodchip stockpiles at Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill, is now his major concern.

“It is not threatening lives but it has the potential to impact on critical infrastructure for Victoria,” Mr Lapsley said.

“It is not impacting on power generation in Victoria, but it has the potential to do so.”

Two aircraft, fire trucks and the chief officers of both the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority are at the blaze.

Mr Lapsley said putting out the fire would be complex because normal extraction of the coal was continuing and it was essential that no hot or burning coal found its way onto the conveyors supplying the power station.

“That will be a lengthy operation, and for those living in Morwell, a very uncomfortable operation because there will be black smoke over the town most of the time,” he said.

“It’s more than just a fire. It’s about health issues within the town.”

The Morwell fire took over as the state’s most serious from the blaze that destroyed several homes on Sunday night as it spread from Mickleham, on Melbourne’s northern outskirts, to Kilmore, 40km away.

It had burned more than 16,000 hectares by Monday evening.

The Morwell and Mickleham fires are among 200 fought at the height of the crisis on Sunday, 12 of which are believed to have been started by arsonists.

“There is sufficient evidence to suggest (the fires) are more than likely to have been deliberately lit,” Mr Lay said.

He said some suspects had been identified.

None of the major fires are under suspicion, with Mr Lay reporting the most likely cause of the Mickleham fire is a tree branch falling across powerlines.

Mr Lapsley said more than 20 homes had been lost in the fires since Sunday morning, three of them in a built-up area at Warrandyte in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, as well as those at Morwell and Kilmore.

Fires in Gippsland had burned out some 100,000 hectares, with a fire that burned 78,000 hectares in the Snowy River National Park causing serious concern.

The Morwell fire’s impact on the community is limited and it isn’t among those that were the subject of emergency warnings in place late on Monday.

Heydon is a stickler for the law

John Dyson Heydon is a stickler for the letter of the law.

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And he has little time for judges who see their role as making law, rather than upholding it.

“Stronger judicial personalities tend to push the weaker into submission,” he wrote in an essay subtitled “The enemy within” on his aged-enforced retirement from the High Court in 2013.

Now he’s setting his steely judicial gaze on the trade union movement and the alleged and yet-to-be-uncovered corruption within.

Heydon, on the face of it, is an unsurprising choice as royal commissioner.

A renowned judicial conservative, he was appointed to the High Court in 2003 by the Howard government in a bid to stem what the coalition saw as the court’s over-enthusiasm for judicial activism.

Of his reputation as a black-letter judge, he once said: “I wear it as a badge of honour.”

In other words, legal precedence and established law are paramount when making judgments.

Heydon eschews judicial activism, the philosophy whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions.

But if the Abbott government thinks it can rely on Heydon to take a particularly helpful political line with his royal commission, it better think again.

Heydon has a reputation for being his own man.

On the High Court bench he enjoyed a dissent rate of nearly 50 per cent, including his decision to support the Gillard government’s right to strike a controversial people-swap deal with Malaysia in 2011.

“With all respect to my colleagues I think it was a field where the government had to be left to run its foreign policies as it saw fit,” he says of the case.

And even when he agreed with his colleagues, Heydon preferred to write separate judgments.

But he did collaborate with another judicial figure – Roderick Meagher – in 1989 to write a report on the duties and fiduciary obligations of officials of industrial unions of employers and employees.

The report recommended that the finances of trade unions be administered in the same way as companies.

Coincidentally, the Abbott government has legislation before the parliament that aims to subject corrupt union officials to the same penalties that apply to company directors found guilty of fraud.

Since his retirement from the High Court at age 70, Heydon has headed an inquiry into allegations of altered staff contracts at NSW’s largest state-owned electricity generator, Macquarie Generation.

Heydon’s plan for a relatively quiet retirement – he now rises at 5.15am each day instead of the 3.30am start of his working days – are on hold for at least a year while he undertakes his new commission.