Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been slammed for a “shameless” ad posted on social media amid the bushfire crisis.
The video, authorised by the prime minister, promoted the government’s response to the national tragedy, with Mr Morrison announcing he would deploy 3000 army reservists.
Funding has also been allocated for firefighting planes, volunteer firefighters and those who lost homes or incomes.
Mr Morrison posted a tweet along with the video that said the government was “putting more defence force boots on the ground, more planes in the sky, more ships to sea” as a way to “support the bushfire fighting effort and recovery”.
For God’s sake! On a day we have catastrophic fire conditions, in the midst of a genuine national crisis, Morrison, the marketing guy, does what? He releases a Liberal Party ad! He is no longer fit to hold the high office of prime minister. https://t.co/1OZqEZalOa— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) January 4, 2020
The world however was quick to react to the video, with media personality Piers Morgan saying it was a “self-promotional commercial with cheesy elevator music”.
“This is one of the most tone-deaf things I’ve ever seen a country’s leader put out during a crisis. Shameless and shameful,” Morgan tweeted.
Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd also expressed his disbelief.
“For God’s sake! On a day we have catastrophic fire conditions, in the midst of a genuine national crisis, Morrison, the marketing guy, does what? He releases a Liberal Party ad! He is no longer fit to hold the high office of prime minister,” he said.
Ad Man Scott Morrison is at it again.— Terri Butler MP (@terrimbutler) January 4, 2020
If only he put as much effort into running the country as he does into political advertising.
Just unbelievable. https://t.co/RvyuIQ0oDw
Many others were quick to criticise the prime minister, with author Richard Cooke saying the ad “speaks to the marketing background” and Griffith MP Terri Butler dubbing it “just unbelievable”.
“If only he put as much effort into running the country as he does into political advertising,” she tweeted.
The Australia Defence Association, a non-partisan public-interest watchdog, accused the government of breaching rules around political advertising.
"Party-political advertising milking ADF support to civil agencies fighting bushfires is a clear breach of the (reciprocal) non-partisanship convention applying to both the ADF & Ministers/MPs," the association tweeted.
Prime minister under fire for bushfire response
Mr Morrison has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his response to the bushfire crisis.
Last month Mr Morrison went on a family holiday to Hawaii as bushfires raged around the country before cancelling it and returning home following the deaths of two firefighters in NSW.
The prime minister was then shouted down by angry bushfire victims as he visited the fire-ravaged community of Cobargo, in Bega Valley, on Tuesday morning.
Residents who lost homes refused to shake his hand while others told him to “f**k off” and said he wasn’t welcome.
He was later accused of turning his back on a pregnant woman who just lost her home and was asking for more RFS funding, but the prime minister later defended his actions, saying he had a number of people he needed to meet.
Mr Morrison then copped a scolding from a member of his own party, with Andrew Constance, the Liberal MP for Bega, saying he didn’t even know the prime minister was visiting his local area and residents “gave him the welcome he deserved”.
The prime minister’s latest act, deploying the army reservists, has too outraged RFS fire boss Shane Fitzsimmons, who said he only found out about it through media reports.
Mr Morrison took to Twitter to defend the video late on Saturday, saying it was a legal requirement in Australia to include an authorisation on all video messages used by MPs on social media.
"The video message simply communicates the government's policy decisions and the actions the government is undertaking to the public," he posted.
"The same practice is rightly employed by the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party. This is required and standard practice in Australia."
The prime minister has also faced criticism for not acting sooner to bolster the nation's firefighting capabilities.
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