- As bushfires rage on in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been sharply criticised for his administration’s refusal to curtail the coal industry, and hosting a lavish New Year’s celebration amid the crisis.
- On Thursday he visited the small New South Wales town of Cobargo, which was ravaged by bushfires which killed two residents this week.
- Morrison was cursed out and hounded by angry locals until he eventually retreated into his car.
- One woman refused to shake his hand until he grabbed it and shook it himself.
- Watch videos of the disastrous visit below.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Videos show Prime Minister Scott Morrison being heckled and hounded out of a bushfire-ravaged town by angry locals in the South Coast . of New South Wales as deadly flames continue to spread and the death toll continues to mount.
Morrison on Thursday had been visiting Cobargo, a historic town in New South Wales state, where a 63-year-old man and his 29-year-old son died protecting a home earlier this week, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
During Morrison’s walkabout in Cobargo on Thursday, he was met with jeers and shouts that he had “forgotten” about the residents of the remote region and was told to “piss off” until he eventually retreated into his car.
“How about about the money for our forgotten corner of New South Wales, Mr Prime Minister? How come we only had four trucks to defend our town?” one woman said. “Our town doesn’t have a lot of money, but we have hearts of gold, Mr Prime Minister.”
Other locals didn’t mince their words, with one man saying: “Nah, you’re an idiot, mate. You really are.”
“What about the people around here?” another man can be heard saying.
“You’re out, son. You’re out. Goodnight, Vienna. Bye! Go on, piss off … You’re not welcome, you fucker.”
“I don’t see Kirribilli burning after the fireworks,” the man added, referring to Kirribilli House, Morrison’s Sydney Harbour official residence where he hosted a lavish New Year’s Eve party.
At another point a woman refused to shake his hand, until Morrison grabbed it and shook it.
“I’m only shaking your hand if you give more funding to RFS,” the woman said, referring to the country’s Rural Fire Service.
Watch videos of the disastrous walkabout here:
Incredible clip (unfortunately, heavily censored) of Aus' PM visiting the devastated town of Cobargo
Morrison grabs the hand of a woman who tried to say that she'd refuse to shake hands unless he committed more resources to the area (and then walks away)https://t.co/vPJw0PGEB6 pic.twitter.com/ZtPXZRa2df
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) January 2, 2020
“You won't be getting any votes around here, buddy. You're an idiot.”
Residents in Cobargo, New South Wales confront Australian PM Scott Morrison about the government's response to the wildfires.⁰
Mr Morrison said he was "not surprised people are feeling very raw". pic.twitter.com/Utjav0udfh
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) January 2, 2020
Morrison has faced sharp criticism in recent weeks, with many people noting his government’s insufficient targets to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, refusal to curtail the Australian coal industry, and for holidaying in Hawaii and hosting his New Year’s celebration amid the crisis.
At least 18 people have died as a result of the bushfires, with some 1,400 homes destroyed and millions of acres of land burned.
He later told reporters he was “not surprised” by the reaction, and that he “can’t always” comfort victims.
“I’m not surprised people are feeling very raw at the moment. And that’s why I came today, to be here, to see it for myself, to offer what comfort I could,” he said, in a clip published by Channel 4 News.
“But you can’t always in every circumstance. I think everyone understands that.”
In late December, Morrison apologised for going on vacation in Hawaii with his family amid the bushfire crisis, saying that with the “benefit of hindsight we would have made different decisions,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Food and fuel are running low in remote areas in southeastern Australia, leaving those regions teetering on a humanitarian crisis. The air quality in the capital of Canberra became the world’s worst on Thursday.
Weather conditions are expected to worsen as the week progresses, with meteorologists predicting temperatures in southeastern Australia to soar to as high as 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 degrees Fahrenheit), alongside strong winds and dry conditions.
- Read more:
- Food and fuel are running out in parts of Australia as raging bushfires push it toward a humanitarian crisis. Here’s what you need to know.
- Terrifying video shows the moment a rescue crew in Australia were overrun by bushfires and were forced to seek shelter in their truck
- Eerie photos capture blood-red skies as bushfires rage across Australia and trap thousands
- The bushfires in Australia are so big they’re generating their own weather – ‘pyrocumulonimbus’ thunderstorms that can start more fires
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