Australia is burning, and yet Prime Minster Scott Morrison has fucked off on holidays.
Precisely where he’s gone, nobody knows. The big rumour is that he’s in Hawaii, but his office has refused to say where, ostensibly for security reasons.
We do know that he’s having a “well-deserved break” overseas with his family (according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg) and it’s a “planned break [which he] is perfectly entitled to take” (according to acting PM Michael McCormack). Which, like sure – everyone needs a holiday, but maybe not when firies are exhausted, people are choking on smoke, and the entire country is wondering what the hell we’re going to do about Australia’s worsening fire seasons.
There’s a reason #WhereTheBloodyHellAreYou has been trending for two days straight, and it’s not just because Lara Bingle is a national treasure.
Amid all this anger, journalists have uncovered footage of Morrison on Q&A in 2010, lambasting then Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon for going out to dinner during the Black Saturday bushfires, when 173 people lost their lives.
“She’s clearly made a bad judgement call,” Morrison.
“That happens to people from time to time, but this was a very serious issue and I think there are very serious concerns in the community about exercising judgment, and it’s incumbent on all of us in public life to make decisions following that in the best interests of the ongoing nature of the program.”
Here’s Network 10’s Peter van Onselen with the footage:
— 10 News First Sydney (@10NewsFirstSyd) December 17, 2019
Exercising judgement is precisely what Morrison has been accused of not doing very well. Just yesterday, a coalition of former state emergency services chiefs vowed to hold a national summit on the factors leading to Australia’s bushfire crisis whether or not Morrison decides to join them.
“We’ve asked the Prime Minister repeatedly to meet. He’s declined to do that,” former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins said.
“It falls to us, because of that leadership vacuum, to call an emergency bushfire summit after this summer, when the experts, the firefighters are available and taking a well-earned rest.”
It’s confirmed that Morrison is returning to Australia before Christmas, but he’s skipping his January planned break – including his wedding anniversary, the horror! – to lead a trade and business delegation to India and Japan. Just gotta get some of that fresh air, you know?
As for Nixon, well – she stepped down as chief commissioner shortly after the fires, admitting she had not received updates about the emergency while she was at the pub, and conceding she could probably have also cancelled her hairdresser appointment and meeting with her biographer.
She then took a position as head of the Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, before quietly quitting that role two months later, sneaking in the news on the same day as the federal election was announced.
It was not a good look then, and it’s not a good look now.