Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who was jeered by hecklers and snubbed by a firefighter in the township of Cobargo, New South Wales during his visit on January 2 says that he “understands their anger” at him. “People are angry, and if they want to direct that at me, I understand,” Morrison told reporters. “My job is to stay focused and ensuring that we have the maximum amount of coordination of effort across many states,” he added.
Mass evacuations commence
As many as 1,000 people who were stranded on the beach in Mallacoota were evacuated on navy ships. “Around 1000 people have been safely evacuated from Mallacoota today on board the HMAS Choules & MV Sycamore following the Federal Government’s decision to deploy both vessels earlier this week to support the Victorian Gov’s efforts. Thanks to all those involved in this operation,” Morrison recently tweeted.
“An unprecedented mass relocation of civilians from Mallacoota is underway with two naval vessels (Choules & Sycamore) set to carry 963 passengers to safety at Western Port. Conditions are smoky but fine in Mallacoota today. #TYFYS @DeptDefence @Australian_Navy,” the district’s Member of Parliament Darren Chester said on his Twitter account.
While fires were raging across five states in Australia, Morrison took off on a family holiday to Hawaii in December. He then cut short his vacation after facing mounting criticism, especially on Twitter with the now defining hashtag #wherethebloodyhellareyou. “So where the bloody hell are you” was a slogan used by the Australian tourism industry in 2006.
He was once again criticized for going for a swim with family at Sydney’s Bronte Beach on Boxing Day December 26, drawing more ire from Australians for not prioritizing the nation’s efforts to battle the bushfires which had at the time raged across various parts of the country.
Morrison is reportedly said to be “inclined not to proceed” with an upcoming trip to India for trade and defense talks. He will also not attend the Sydney Test cricket match over the weekend – a customary prime ministerial engagement – and will instead be in Sydney and Canberra receiving briefings.
Twenty-three former fire and emergency leaders claim they tried for months to warn Morrison that Australia was in dire need of more water bombers to tackle extreme bushfires. A letter from Emergency Leaders for Climate Action – a body comprised of 22 former senior emergency service leaders with first-hand experience of escalating climate change impacts – dated September 16, 2019 which had been sent to Morrison was reportedly met with no response.