Despite the fact that the smoke haze lingering over Sydney is so thick right now that the Harbour Bridge and Opera House aren’t even visible from Circular Quay, and despite the fact that the pollutants in the air across Sydney are sitting at levels that are around 11 times greater than “hazardous,” and despite the fact that it’s so smokey in Sydney that fire alarms in train stations and commercial buildings are being triggered, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is nonetheless adamant that the over-stretched volunteer firefighting core should not be paid for their fairly heroic efforts.

Morrison held two press conferences in Sydney this afternoon, chiefly to trumpet his Government’s latest attempt at amending the Religious Discrimination Act and not to directly address the fact that the entire Greater Sydney Region is currently one 5,000 tonne guitar strum away from being a giant Kumbaya situation.

Even when pressed on the issue – and it’s a big one, let’s not get it twisted – Morrison was non-committal, even going so far as to assert volunteer firefighters should remain unpaid for their time and effort in battling the myriad of fires currently affecting New South Wales.

When pushed on the issue, which is apparently so dire that volunteer forces have reportedly been crowd-sourcing water and food to assist their efforts, Morrison rejected the suggestion that the Federal Government could maybe, possibly, potentially be doing a shade more than the political hand-sitting they’ve been doing thus far this fire season.

When asked if volunteer firefighters should be compensated for their efforts, Morrison stated “No, I don’t share that view because I know what the practice is and I know what the experience is and I know what’s happening on the ground.”

He then claimed the Government was “constantly looking at ways to better facilitate the volunteer effort,” but to “professionalise that at that scale is not a matter that has previously been accepted and it’s not currently under consideration.”

Morrison, digging his heels in yet again, claimed that the Coalition’s climate change policy was “sensible,” and that “our actions on climate change are getting the results they’re intended to get.” He then said that he believed they were capturing “that sensible centre that understands that we need to balance both meeting the needs of sustainability in our environment and ensuring that we meet the economic needs of our nation.”

It’s not all batshit head-in-the-sand insanity, however. The Prime Minister did state that the response to disasters such as these are always being reviewed. It’s just that they’re only scheduled to be reviewed “post these events,” which presents a fairly optimistic view that there will, at some point, be a “post” these events.

But anyway, at least we’ve got the cricket, right? It’s gonna be a great summer of cricket. How’s that all going, by the way?

Great. Good stuff. You truly love to see it. How good’s Australia.

Image: Getty Images / Tracey Nearmy