Around 70,000 people packed out Australia's ANZ stadium on Sunday, to show their support for communities that have been devastated by the country's recent bushfire crisis.
Selling out in just 24 hours after tickets went on sale, the Fire Fight Australia concert was headlined by international rock giant Queen and featured an array of local and international artists including 5 Seconds of Summer, Alice Cooper, Amy Shark, Grinspoon, Jessica Mauboy, Ronan Keaing and Michael Bublé.
Thanking Australia's professional and volunteer firefighters, comedian Celeste Barber who hosted the event said, "you will never know how grateful we are."
"Our volunteers across this entire country, they are the ones who saved us," Barber told the crowd.
"They are the ones who cancel holidays to stay here and look after us, and I will speak now very confidently on behalf of a nation when I say to those volunteers, thank you."
Raising over 9 million Australian dollars (6 million U.S. dollars) for people in need, Barber said, "As Aussies, we band together because we have to look after each other."
With a brother-in-law currently serving as a volunteer firefighter in Queensland State, Irish pop star Ronan Keating told the 7 Network it was one show he just had to be a part of.
"I wanted people in Australia to know that we heard you, and that you weren't alone," he said.
"That was really important to me, that I could be here and perform or do whatever just to stand in solidarity."
Donations from the mammoth 10-hour gig will now go to Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund, rural and regional fire services and animal welfare group, the RSPCA.
A man in Australia is lucky to be alive on Tuesday, after spending the night clinging to a tree in floodwaters.
Battered by a low pressure system bringing record rainfall and damaging winds, several drought-affected, bone-dry rivers near the township of Bega in New South Wales (NSW) State were instantly turned into roaring rapids in a matter of hours.
Walking near the Brogo River at around 6:00 p.m. local time on Monday, the man was quickly swept away by the rising floodwaters.
Desperately trying to stay afloat, he grabbed onto a tree where he stayed until 4:00 a.m. this morning, until a local resident spotted the man and called for help.
"He wasn't in great condition when we pulled him out," local State Emergency Service Commander Michelle De Frisbom told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"He was suffering the effect of hypothermia ... even though it wasn't that cold."
"He had been in the water for quite a number of hours ... he is one very lucky man."
Able to be helped from the water by boat, the man was just one of around 260 flood rescues that have taken place on Australia’s east coast over the past few days.
Forecasters predict more severe weather could strike later in the week, putting more pressure on emergency services.
Heavy rains lashed parts of the wildfire and drought-stricken Australian east coast on Friday, bringing some flooding in Sydney and relief to firefighters still dealing with dozens of blazes in New South Wales.
New South Wales is the state hardest hit by wildfires that have killed at least 33 and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in an unprecedented fire season that began late in a record-dry 2019.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he was optimistic the rain will help extinguish some blazes over the coming days. He said there were still 42 fires burning in the state, with 17 of those not contained.
"The rain is good for business and farms as well as being really good for quenching some of these fires we've been dealing with for many, many months," he said.
"We don't want to see lots of widespread damage and disruption from flooding, but it is certainly a welcome change to the relentless campaign of hot, dry weather," he added.
Firefighters can't contain major blazes across the southeast without heavy rain. The rain forecast to move southwest from the northeastern coast over the next week would be the first substantial soakings to reach dozens of fires that have spread for weeks.
Heavy rain and flash-flooding warnings extend across most of the New South Wales coast. Authorities say they rescued six people stranded from flood water in New South Wales since Wednesday.
Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced on Monday he is quitting politics to give a new leader of his environmentally-focused minority party an opportunity to expose government failings during the nation's wildfire crisis.
Di Natale's surprise resignation means that both the Greens and the government's junior coalition party, the Nationals, will elect new leaders when Parliament resumes for the first time this year on Tuesday.
Di Natale, a 49-year-old senator, said there was no single reason why be had decided to resign on Monday as party leader. He listed among the factors behind his decision his desire to spend more time with his family and his concern about leaving his wildfire-prone home in Victoria state to sit in Parliament.
"We have as a nation just endured one of the most horrific events in the nation's history," Di Natale told reporters at Parliament House, referring to wildfires that have killed at least 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes since September.
"This is now an opportunity for a new leader to step up at a time when the nation's focus is on this place and to really demonstrate that we are a party brimming with talent, where a new leader can stamp their authority over a government that has been catastrophic in their failures to respond to this horrendous crisis," Di Natale added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative government has been accused of being too slow to respond to the wildfire crisis and of not doing enough to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie resigned from Cabinet on Sunday for breaching ministerial rules by failing to declare she was a member of a gun club that she gave a government grant of 36,000 Australian dollars ($24,100).
Her resignation means Nationals lawmakers will meet to elect a new deputy party leader around the same time that the Greens choose their own new leader.
But former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said on Monday he would nominate for his old job if both the positions of party leader and deputy leader are put to a vote.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack said he did not expect his position would be put to a vote, but was confident of defeating any challenge.
Whoever leads the Nationals becomes deputy prime minister and acts as prime minister when Morrison is overseas.
Both the Nationals leader and deputy leader are also guaranteed seats in Cabinet.
Joyce had not been a minister since he quit as Nationals leader in 2018 over controversy surrounding him having a child with a former staffer and allegations that he had sexually harassed another woman.
The first day of Parliament on Tuesday will be dominated by debates about the unprecedented wildfire that is devastating Australia's southeast.
Di Natale said he would quit the Senate once his party had selected a replacement senator.
What's to blame for scores of wildfires devastating Australia's southeast?
There's an increasingly bitter face-off between those who say arson and those who fault climate change.
Each side has powerful backers and their weapons of choice are often fabrications and part-truths that have spread in time with the fires in recent weeks.
Humans burning fossil fuels and humans with criminal intent who torch a combustible landscape both factor into this unprecedented crisis.
But just how to accurately apportion the blame has become a big political issue. The debate is made hotter by many — including some Australian lawmakers — who argue against deeper cuts to carbon gas emissions.
Firefighters blame lightning strikes for most of the major blazes in New South Wales and Victoria states, and many scientists say climate change is the main reason for fires that have claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 1 0.6 million hectares (26.2 million acres ).
Still, the arson side often cites repeatedly on social media a debunked statistic that says more than 180 suspected arsonists have been arrested.
"Truly Disgusting that people would do this! God Bless Australia," President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted. "More than 180 alleged arsonists have been arrested since the start of the bushfire season," he added.
Although it's been discredited by AAP FactCheck, the fact-checking division of news agency Australian Associated Press, the statistic has been repeated thousands of times online.
A AP FactCheck, a partner in Facebook's Third Party Fact Checking program, looking at misinformation on Facebook and Instagram, links the statistic to a statement by police in New South Wales — the worst fire-affected state — that said "legal action" had been taken against 183 people since November for "bushfire-related offenses."
These included only 24 people charged over "deliberately-lit bushfires." Legal action — which includes cautions — had also been taken against another 100 people for conduct that could be described as being careless during a fire ban. The statement did not detail the offenses alleged against the remaining 59 suspects.
Climate change is the main reason for the current extraordinarily destructive fire season, according to Janet Stanley, a director of Australia's National Center for Research in Bushfire and Arson.
"In the past, there's been little interest generally in why people light fires -- whether it's purposefully or accidentally or maliciously or recklessly -- because climate change hadn't kicked in and it really wasn't such a problem because fire could fairly easily be put out," said Stanley, who has studied arson-related wildfires for three decades.
"But because of climate change, this is not the case now. The conditions that make a fire very big and dangerous and spread quickly are now a great deal worse, so it's much harder to put out the fire once it occurs than it was in the past," she added.
Arson has long been part of Australia's wildfire seasons, but it's hard to estimate how big a problem it is because crime scenes are often remote and evidence is frequently destroyed.
The New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency won't release their arson data for the current wildfire season in the two worst-effected states until March.
Swinburne University of Technology arson expert Troy McEwan cautioned that three fires that killed 42 people in Victoria during a wildfire emergency in 2009 had initially been wrongly blamed on arson.
"Certainly a significant proportion of bushfires are deliberately lit in Australia," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"We need to be open to the idea that it could be caused by arson, but, equally, it's not helpful to say these fires are always caused by arson or the majority of them are because the reality is, it seems, that most very large fires are not caused by arson," she added.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack believes arsonists are the major problem.
"It's important to note that most of these fires have been caused by little Lucifers running around with matches and fire-starters and creating havoc," McCormack told reporters, referring to child arsonists, while acknowledging that climate change was also a factor in the fire emergency.
McCormack's rural-based party, the Nationals, is staunchly against any action on climate change that would carry an economic cost, such as making polluters pay for the carbon gases that they emit.
Some lawmakers in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative Liberal Party publicly dispute any link between climate change and the fires.
A common theme being spread by those looking to exaggerate Australia's contribution to global warming "was that the fires are basically spontaneously occurring because the carbon dioxide in the air is exploding," said Craig Kelly, a conservative lawmaker. "That's nonsense.'"
"There are groups in our society that have exploited these bushfires to push their own political barrow. The climate change alarmists want to hijack the debate and use these fires as an example," Kelly added.
A widely circulated online image purporting to be a NASA satellite photograph shows the wildfires, which are largely confined to southern Australia, extending across the country's tropical north coast. The creator of the image, Anthony Hearsey, explained on his website that it was a digital compilation of almost eight months of NASA fire data and that not all the fires were still burning, but those qualifications were lost online.
Singer Rihanna tweeted the dramatic image to her many followers with the comment: "devastating"
Tourism Australia, a government agency tasked with promoting the country overseas, has included its own fire map on its website to counter online images suggesting much more of the country is ablaze.
Queensland University of Technology researchers Tobias Keller and Timothy Graham suspect automated programs called bots have been used to bolster the apparent popularity of #ArsonEmergency compared to other popular hashtags on the wildfires. The research doesn't identify who is behind the campaign.
Keller, an expert on the spread of political messages on social media platforms, said the involvement of the U.S. president's eldest child was an important achievement for those who overstate the arson problem.
"When someone like Donald Trump Jr. or any celebrity endorses such a narrative, it can gain traction very quickly because everyone looks at what these celebrities post on and what their opinions is and that can be very dangerous." Keller said.