- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped more criticism following his visit to fire-ravaged Cobargo after he was filmed forcibly shaking the hand of a firefighter.
The prime minister visited the town in southern NSW on Thursday, but was met with anger by residents.
One man called Mr Morrison “an idiot”, while others pleaded for funding for local firefighters.
In one meet-and-greet, the PM tried to shake hands with a firefighter.
"I don't really want to shake your hand, mate," the firefighter told Mr Morrison.
“Oh, well. Nice to see you,” the prime minister said.
“Nice to see you too, mate.”
The firefighter then walked off.
On Twitter, people said the non-handshake was “awkward”.
Ten News’s Hugh Riminton tweeted: “I have never seen a PM so openly disdained during a national disaster.”
Other people called the footage “cringeworthy” and “embarrassing”.
Sophie McNeill, a reporter for ABC’s 4Corners, called the meet-and-greet “so awkward”.
Writer Marieke Hardy tweeted she was perplexed by Mr Morrison’s visit.
“Trying to get my head around Morrison's ongoing technique of facing broken humans who refuse to shake his hand and then determinedly reaching down to grip them by the arm regardless,” she tweeted.
‘Tell that fella I’m really sorry’
According to the ABC, the firefighter filmed refusing to shake the PM’s hand had earlier lost his home.
Mr Morrison was filmed speaking with a local incident controller.
“Tell that fella I’m really sorry. I’m sure he’s just tired,” Mr Morrison told him.
“No, no. He lost a house,” the man told the PM.
Three people died and others lost homes, businesses, livestock and pasture after fires hit the Cobargo community.
After copping the abuse from angry locals, Mr Morrison told the ABC he was not surprised.
“That’s why I came here today – to be here, to see it for myself, to offer what comfort I could. But you can’t always,” he said.
Andrew Constance, who is the Liberal MP for Bega and the NSW Transport and Roads Minister, showed no signs of sympathy for Mr Morrison following the heckling.
“I didn’t even know he was coming and I haven’t had a call from him,” Mr Constance told Sunrise on Friday morning.
UK TV presenter Piers Morgan tweeted the PM “got what he deserved”.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.