'Awkward': Firefighter refuses to shake Scott Morrison's hand

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.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tries to shake the hand of a NSW firefighter in Cobargo. The firefighter said he did not wish to.
A Cobargo firefighter tells Prime Minister Scott Morrison he doesn't want to shake his hand. Source: Nine News

"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.

A woman in Cobargo yells at Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
An angry Cobargo resident yells at Mr Morrison during Thursday's visit to the town. Source: Nine News

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.

Business owner Sally Anne Wilson (left) stands in front of her destroyed shop with her partner Christopher Lee in Cobargo.
Sally Anne Wilson stands with her partner Christopher Lee outside the remains of her Cobargo business. Source: AAP

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”.

With AAP

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