Karl Stefanovic has expressed his dismay at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not liaising with fire authorities prior to the announcement of 3000 army reservists being utilised amid the bushfire crisis.
On Channel Nine’s Today Show, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons spoke of how he found out about the federal government’s commitment to aid the bushfire disaster and recovery efforts.
Without giving the heads up to fire bosses like Mr Fitzsimmons, Mr Morrison announced 3000 army reservists, extra naval ships and firefighting planes – leaving the commissioner to find out the news through the media on what was described as one of the “worst days this season”.
In an interview on the Today Show, Stefanovic asked Mr Fitzsimmons whether he was privy to the commitment of the army reservists prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement, to which he said “unfortunately not”.
Mr Fitzsimmons said he spoke to the prime minister’s office last night, as well as state leaders.
“It’s disappointing on one of our worst days this season to hear that announcement and then try and work through on top of everything else, what it means and how it’s going to operate,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“Just to clarify,” Stefanovic interjects.
“I can’t fathom how that isn’t made aware – you’re not made aware of that decision. The prime minister of this country, doesn’t let the man who is running this bushfire emergency know that he is putting 3000 people on the ground.
“Didn’t tell you, didn’t call you, was arrogant enough to go to air without it.”
Mr Fitzsimmons went on to say he found out about the additional help through the media, before then spending a “fair bit of time” with the military liaison and the Commonwealth liaison “trying to understand” the details.
“We’re still working through that,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“We made some progress last night. Importantly we were able to secure that the recall of these people isn’t going to detract from our current people committed to the firefighting effort.”
The Commissioner said last night he was waiting to hear whether bases would be utilised and said it was “nice to hear some funding injection into more aircraft” .
Mr Fitzsimmons said he spoke to Mr Morrison about his disappointment with the lack of communication, but the RFS has welcomed the additional resources.
The additional crews could be utilised to assist in the recovery and support operations for the people and communities heavily impacted by the devastating fires, Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“It will be a valuable thing, it will help our communities.”
Stefanovic once again said he “can’t fathom” how the prime minister did not let the RFS Commissioner know about the defence force aid.
“It is beyond,” the presenter said.
Co-host Allison Langdon expressed how she too was stunned by the Prime Minister’s lack of communication.
“Absolutely floored by that,” she said.
“If Scott Morrison is trying to get ahead of this and turn public opinion, to drop an announcement like that...
“Logistically, how does this work? You’ve got professional firefighters, local police and now ADF on the ground – who runs it?”
“The announcement’s a good announcement,” Stefanovic responded.
“That’s why you do get on the phone and say, ‘Hey, we got support!’, and the prime minister has again let crucial people down. I mean, it’s not hard.”
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