'Completely false' rumours circulate online about firie who told PM to 'get f***ed'

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor

A NSW firefighter who made headlines around the country for his emotional outburst at Scott Morrison has not been stood down by the Rural Fire Service, despite online rumours suggesting he was facing disciplinary action.

Rumours on social media claimed the firie from Nelligen on the state’s south coast, faced action after he was filmed loudly telling the Prime Minister to “go and get f***ed” by a TV news crew on the weekend.

An online petition on Change.org perpetuating the rumour and calling on support for the firefighter had more than 30,000 signatures shortly after midday on Monday.

“What a real kick in the face,” the petition reads. “The guy ... who leant out of the fire truck and abused the prime minister to the media is facing dismissal from the RFS.”

Misleading reports claimed the fire volunteer had faced disciplinary action. The RFS says he did not. Source: Channel Seven
Misleading reports claimed the fire volunteer had faced disciplinary action. The RFS says he did not. Source: Channel Seven

However it is simply not true.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has confirmed the firefighter was not stood down. He was asked to temporarily leave the field for his own welfare after he collapsed from exhaustion, but remains a volunteer fire fighter for the state and will continue to battle the ongoing blazes.

His temporary removal from the field “had nothing to do with any comments he made,” a RFS spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

Any suggestion that he was reprimanded or faced disciplinary action were “completely false,” he said.

The NSW RFS State Duty Media Officer, Ben Shepherd, also threw cold water on the allegations on social media.

The Prime Minister has faced heavy criticism over his handling of the bush fire crisis and is accused of ignoring the warnings, blaming the states and trying to politically gain for the situation by promoting an ill-timed ad which also solicited donations to the Liberal Party.

NSW Liberal MPs are among those who have criticised Morrison. NSW Minister for Transport and Roads, Andrew Constance, said Mr Morrison “got the welcome he probably deserved” when he was shouted down by angry locals in the NSW town of Cobargo while another party member accused him of trying “to tear down” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to “save himself”.

The falsehood was momentarily spread on social media. Source: Twitter
The falsehood was momentarily spread on social media. Source: Twitter

Meanwhile former foreign minister Julie Bishop has also taken a swipe at the government she once helped lead, saying Australia needs to show global leadership on climate change in response to the bushfire crisis.

Ms Bishop said Australia must develop a coherent climate and energy policy to present at international conferences.

“We don't have a national energy policy in this country and a national approach to climate change ... we are part of a global effort,” she told Nine News Monday.

“If a country like Australia fails to show leadership, we can hardly blame other nations for not likewise showing leadership in this area.”

Petition removed

Change.org said in a statement the petition has been removed from its platform.

"As soon as it was spotted yesterday morning, we took steps to verify the information presented,” Change.org said.

“We also installed a warning banner on the petition that the statements in the petition may be contested and that people should consider researching the issue before signing or sharing.

"While Change.org is an open platform, we do have policies in place to address issues of hate speech, bullying, fake news, and misinformation. While petitions aren’t news stories and are written by our users, we know they are sometimes signed and shared by people who believe the facts presented to be the truth.”

Change.org explained if it receives “credible reports” that a petition contains “verified misinformation” or hate speech it will take action.

“In some cases, we’ll remove the content altogether and in other more complex cases, we’ll add warnings on the petition page to encourages users to research the issue before signing or sharing,” Change.org said.

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