Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped a scolding from a member of his own political party after he was abused by devastated locals affected by bushfires in Cobargo, in NSW’s southeast.
Mr Morrison quickly abandoned a meet-and-greet in the bushfire-ravaged town on Thursday after he visited the Bega Valley township, which was engulfed by flames on Tuesday.
Three died and others lost homes, businesses and livestock. As he reached for one woman’s hand she said she would only shake it if he promised more funding for the Rural Fire Service.
How does Scott Morrison respond to a woman from fire ravaged Cobargo calling for more funding for volunteer firies?— Chris Picton MP (@PictonChris) January 2, 2020
The PM turns and walks away.
What a disgracepic.twitter.com/5JuKy6fRvj
A man said he was an “idiot”, while another vowed he would not be getting any votes from anybody living in the area.
One was even more blunt, saying: “You’re not welcome you f***ing prick.”
Andrew Constance, whois 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.
“To be honest with you, the locals probably gave him the welcome he deserved.
“I say this to the prime minister today – the nation wants you to open up the cheque books and help people rebuild their lives.
“I know this is tough and I know I’m on his side of politics but [NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian] and [RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons] came here two days ago and visited the fire-affected part of my electorate in the north.”
Mr Constance said while everybody needed to rally together and support each other, emotions were raw, with another devastating fire day expected on Saturday with supplies likely to be tight and power again cut off.
‘I came to see if for myself’
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.
Natural Disasters Minister David Littleproud soon after announced disaster relief payments would be extended to bushfires survivors in the Bega Valley.
Payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child can be claimed through the Department of Human Services.
"This is for people whose homes have been severely damaged or destroyed, who've been seriously injured or who've lost a family member," the minister said.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Morrison defended his government's response to the crisis saying he wouldn't allow state and federal governments "to be tripping over each other in order to somehow outbid each other in the response".
"What is needed is the coordinated response that these agencies planned for in circumstances like this," he told reporters in Sydney.
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