AOC does it again - there's truth for The (morally correct) Left, then there's the truth
Fanfare for Freedom. Composed and conducted by Graham Lloyd.

10th anniversary of Christine Nixon's dinner with Bernice while 173 Victorians were killed

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The Andrews Labor Government has just announced a program of arts and other funding to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Black Saturday fires which killed 173 people.

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I met my old Army mate Graham in 1978.  We stayed in touch over the years, celebrating various marriages and the births of our children.  In the 90s Graham came to my family farm near Kilmore and I have fond memories of Graham and me sharing a long and boozy lunch at journalist Andrew Rule's Floradale property at nearby Willomavin.

In 2009 I was on the radio at 4BC Brisbane during the horrific fires that raged around my former home.  Like many Australians I spent hours on the phone checking in with old mates.  Heaps of friends had lost things that could be replaced like fences, sheds and livestock - but they were all thankful that they and their loved-ones were alive.

Except for Graham.  In a stoic, supernaturally brave and accepting way, Graham told me about the mobile phone conversation he had with his son as the fire consumed him.  Graham's lad was in the bathroom of his rural home.  Graham had been speaking with him during the day and they'd been conscientious in watching out for the warnings to leave.

The warnings never came.  But the fire did.  And it killed Graham's boy huddled in his bathtub.

Victoria's then police commissioner was and is a favourite of The Left, Christine Nixon.

She was the head of Victoria's emergency response body.

She's explained what happened on that day in her book, Fair Cop.

I looked out the window for fires, says Christine Nixon in her book Fair Cop

PART of Christine Nixon's strategy on Black Saturday was to look out of her office window to see if she could see smoke.

She says that on the afternoon of Black Saturday she spent 45 minutes with husband John and journalist Jo Chandler, the collaborator on her memoir.

In her book, Fair Cop, she tells how her office in police headquarters had massive windows facing northwest giving a view across the Docklands, inner-western suburbs and beyond to the forests and farmland beyond.

Ms Nixon, who was the deputy co-ordinator of emergency management and co-ordinator of the state's disaster plan, says she, her husband and Chandler were "scanning the horizon for clues as to what might be happening beyond".

Her hope was that the sky would tell her what teams of people across the state in emergency centres could not.

She noticed the sky darken and the atmosphere change, and noted it to Chandler.

The 173 people who died in the next few hours on Black Saturday did not see it coming.

Ms Nixon says her phone was "unusually quiet" when she was at dinner with friends on the night Victoria burned.

She admits that between 6pm and 9pm there were no calls or text messages as she sat in the Metropolitan Hotel's bistro, but denies she had her phone switched off.

She explains the phone silence by saying that "this is when the maelstrom struck" and the people co-ordinating the emergency response were too busy to call her.

The revelation she went to dinner on Black Saturday caused a storm.

She says she went out to the North Melbourne hotel at 7pm where she and her husband ate with her personal assistant and former assistant commissioner Bernice Masterson before returning home at 8.15pm.

"Dinner was brief and distracted," she says, and within 15 minutes of returning home she was told there may have been up to 40 deaths.

It was the wind change in the late afternoon of Black Saturday that killed most of the people in the Kinglake area a couple of hours later.

Ms Nixon says she went to the emergency control centre within police headquarters about 3pm , when the temperature in the city hit 46.4C, and the "situation looked dire".

Her contribution to the emergency co-ordination effort was "looking over shoulders, asking a few questions".

Ms Nixon says she went to the Integrated Emergency Co-ordination Centre across town, which was the nerve centre for firefighting, and was briefed by senior staff but "was mindful not to disturb the flow of their thoughts".

She conceded at the royal commission, she says, that she might have been too "passive", but adds - controversially, given her designated role as head of the emergency response - that it was not a police matter but more of an emergency for fire authorities.

And after briefings between 5 and 5.30pm at the IECC she was briefed about the devastating fires at Strathewen, Humevale and Churchill and "I knew we had a disaster on our hands".

She reveals that CFA chief Russell Rees told her deaths were likely. And then the chief commissioner of police went home.


I had to eat

Ms Nixon went to the pub with her husband John, Police Appeals Board chair Bernice Masterson and Lita Bostjancic, Ms Nixon's executive assistant at the time.

When confronted by the Herald Sun about going out to dinner moments after being told of the expected loss of life, Ms Nixon said: "I had to eat, it's as simple as that."

Ms Nixon, who later conceded she should have remained at work, was recalled to the bushfire royal commission to account for her movements after failing to mention during her first appearance that she also had her hair cut and met her biographer during the day.


My mate Graham is an ultra-positive and optimistic figure. I spoke with him several times over the following years about losing his son but I still don't know how Graham found the strength to forge ahead with no hint of bitterness or blame-seeking.

I'm not in that league.

The person responsible for the emergency services response on that day was Christine Nixon.

She remains a celebrated darling of The Left.

She represents some of the worst, most insidious and catastrophic damage done to our institutions by The Left's long march through them.

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Today Christine makes a killing lecturing people - here's some of Christine's opinion of Christine:

With more than 30 years in leadership, both with the police and in business, Christine has earned a reputation for excellence in risk management, crisis management....

I'll spare you more details.

There's a lot to be thankful for as we remember the catastrophic fires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009.  My greatest memory is the bravery of Victoria's CFA volunteers who don't rate a mention in the Andrews/Lisa Neville press release.

But it's also a time for solemn and truthful reflection on what really happened 10 years ago.

The person who was responsible for the emergency services response to the catastrophe was more concerned about her biography, her hair cut and her dinner out that night than she was about the fires that killed 173 people.

I wish I could say we've learned our lesson.

Lest We Forget.