Scott Morrison is back in Australia, after facing heavy criticism for buggering off to Hawaii as the nation burns, and in his first press conference, he played the old parental guilt card to justify the trip.

The PM went to the NSW Rural Fire Service headquarters this morning, to speak with the commissioner and volunteers, and gave a press conference after. He started out by acknowledging that his Hawaiian trip was maybe a mistake:

“I have returned from leave, and I know that has caused some great anxiety in Australia, and Jenny and I acknowledge that. If we had our time over again and the benefit of hindsight, we would have made different decisions.”

Laying on a classic guilt trip, Scott Morrison then explained that he went to Hawaii to fulfil family obligations, telling reporters:

“I am sure Australians are fair-minded, and understand that when you make a promise to your children, you try and keep it. But as Prime Minister you have other responsibilities, and I accept that, and I accept the criticism and that is why Jenny and I thought it was important that I returned, particularly after the tragedies we saw late last week.”

Is it really too much to ask to expect our leaders to act like actual leaders in a time of crisis? Apparently so. He then continued:

“I get it that people would have been upset to know that I was holidaying with my family while their families were under great stress. They know I will not stand there and hold a hose. I am not a trained firefighter, nor am I an expert like those in the next room doing an amazing job. But I am comforted by the fact that Australians would like me to be here, simply so I can be here alongside them as they go through this terrible time. And so to those Australians who that caused upset to, I apologise for that.”

He then went on to say:

“I think it is important when you are confronted with these things, you front up and are honest with people, and that is what I am seeking to do now.”

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Yesterday, commentator Gretel Killeen blasted Scott Morrison for buggering off to Hawaii in the first place. She said that his decision to go on holiday in the midst of a serious bushfire emergency was a failure of leadership, telling a Sunrise panel:

“It’s about leadership, and leadership is not necessarily being in the battlefield – it’s showing that your sentiments, your empathy, your vision and your intellect are applied to the problem. [What] this showed is that he was not only physically removed, emotionally removed but intellectually removed.”

Scott Morrison on the bushfire emergency

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has returned to Sydney and is addressing the bushfire emergency at the NSW Rural Fire Service HQ.

Posted by SBS News on Saturday, 21 December 2019