Q&A’s Bega bushfire special forced to relocate to Canberra due to bushfire risk

The first episode of Q&A of the year, and for new host Hamish Macdonald, has been forced to relocate, with Monday night’s bushfires special live from Bega deemed too risky due to worsening fire conditions. The special episode will instead be filmed more than two and a half hours away, in Canberra.

Bega is set to reach 41 degrees today, and other parts of the NSW south coast 43. In just a week, since 24 January, six houses and 27 outbuildings have been burnt across the Bega Valley Shire, but the south coast is again preparing for the worst after already being ravaged by blazes over New Years.

The special episode in response to the bushfires was expected to be broadcast from Bega, a town affected by the blazes (Click to enlarge)

Incoming host Macdonald took to Twitter to announce the news, explaining that the venue for the proposed panel – featuring Member for Bega and NSW transport minister Andrew Constance and Mayor of Bega Valley Shire Kristy McBain, among others – will now be used as an evacuation centre.

While the Q&A website still lists the episode as being filmed ‘live from Bega’, the show’s Twitter page confirmed that Monday night’s live show will move to the nation’s capital, 168km away from Bega, but still have “input from the Bega community”.

While the show was to feature a live audience of South Coast residents and bushfire victims, Q&A said they would love to still welcome those evacuated to the Canberra broadcast.

Macdonald has been a significant contributor to the ABC’s reporting across the fire season, cutting short his holiday to hometown Jindabyne over the Christmas and New Year break to report live from fire zones including those across the Snowy Mountains and South Coast, including Bega.

He has been performing live crosses and continuing in his role on Radio National throughout the bushfire emergency, but Monday night will be his first as permanent Q&A host, taking over from Tony Jones, after previously being a regular fill-in.

In addition to his Q&A hosting duties, Macdonald will continue to be a regular member of the RN breakfast team and report internationally for Foreign Correspondent.

Jones stepped down from the hosting role to join his wife, fellow ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson, in China, after she was appointed China bureau chief.

However, The Australian reports that the ABC has still not confirmed when Ferguson will start in the role given the outbreak of coronavirus, which has so far killed 170 people globally.


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