20 December 2019

How to lose a Prime Minister in 10 hours

| Dominic Giannini
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is being criticised for taking a pre-planned holiday as bushfires ravage the country. Photo: File.

As the Prime Minister prepares to return to Sydney following the death of two NSW RFS firefighters, his absence on a pre-planned holiday while bushfires ravage the country continues to cause controversy across Australia.

Throughout the week, the public was given very little detail about our Prime Ministerial situation, with both the Prime Minister’s and Deputy Prime Minister’s offices refusing to confirm when Michael McCormack became acting PM, or how long he would stay in the role.

It appears that the only thing we could say definitively was that Scott Morrison is on a pre-planned holiday and our acting Prime Minister is Michael McCormack.

For how long is Mr McCormack our Prime Minister? We don’t know.

Was our Prime Minister in Australia? Officially, we don’t know.

When exactly did Australia get an acting Prime Minister? We don’t know.

When Region Media put a call to the Deputy Prime Minister’s office this week to ask how much longer Mr McCormack would be our Prime Minister, we were told a couple of days and then we were referred to the PM’s office.

The PM’s office confirmed that Mr McCormack would be our acting PM for a “couple of days”, but was unable to give definitive dates about when Mr Morrison went on leave or when he will return.

The PM’s office told Region Media that they do not disclose the location of the Prime Minister for security reasons, apart from public media events; however, his office directed us to comments that the Treasurer made at the start of the week saying Mr Morrison was overseas.

On Friday morning (December 20) the Prime Minister said on Facebook that he will return to Sydney as soon as he can following the death of two RFS firefighters.

“Given these most recent tragic events, I will be returning to Sydney from leave as soon as can be arranged,” the post said.

“The Federal Government stands ready to deploy whatever further assistance State and Territory authorities request to manage this disaster.”

The office said they could not confirm whether he was overseas, although they told Region Media at the start of the week that Mr Morrison was still receiving regular updates about the New Zealand volcano tragedy and bushfires.

Video has also surfaced this week of Mr Morrison criticising former Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon for going out to dinner during Black Saturday bushfire evacuations, calling it a “bad judgement call”.

“That was a very big event. She has clearly made a bad judgement call, that happens to people from time to time but this was a very serious issue and I think there are very serious concerns in the community about exercising judgement,” he said on the ABC’s Q&A program on 19 April 2010.

“I think what’s most important here gets beyond any one individual and that is public confidence in how the reconstruction effort is taking place.

“While the Premier may have made his call on Christine, it really is a matter for her to make a judgement about whether the controversy surrounding her actions may impede the ability of that organisation to get on with the job.”

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese says he did not have concerns with Mr Morrison choosing to go on leave with his family; however, former ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Peter Dunn says he is worried about the firefighters who will not have a break.

“Everyone needs a break. Firefighters out on the fire front right up and down the eastern seaboard and across Western Australia are not going to get a break, and that is what concerns us,” he told Region Media.

“There is a leadership vacuum and we need to get that filled.”

Mr Morrison has repeatedly ignored calls to meet with former emergency Commissioners and Chief Fire Officers from across Australia to hold a national summit to discuss how best to tackle the fires and address the issue of climate change.

“The government has not taken any action. We asked the government to convene a national summit and they have gone missing in action. They are not doing anything about it so we need to get this organised ourselves,” Mr Dunn said.

Earlier today (20 December), Mr Morrison’s office announced he would be returning to Australia as soon as possible; however, further details would not be disclosed for security reasons. Region Media was told, “as much as we love you all [the media], then you will send a greeting party for him wherever he is coming back from or to”.

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rationalobserver3:11 pm 23 Dec 19

The hypocrisy being shown here by the eternally angy is astonishing.

Abbot takes leave to fight fires and he’s slammed.
Morrison takes leave and is slammed for not being on the end of a hose (metaphorically)
Qld also has many fires and their Premier (who is more directly responsible for fires than Scomo) is allegedly enjoying a cruise in the pacific without all the hysteria.
Christine Nixon is being used as a comparable. She had direct accountability. Scomo doesn’t.
There are cries for more federal funding to fight fires when NSW is pouring cash into a big hole in the ground where a perfectly fine stadium used to be.
What a joke.

For what it is worth Abbott when PM shouldn’t have been fighting fires either, instead showing leadership and support for those that were. Same with Morrission he shouldn’t be expected to be out fighting, but there came a time when it was clear he shouldn’t have been overseas on holiday either and should have been back here supporting the fire fighters.

No hypocrisy in that I am afraid unless you want to go looking and taking things out of context.

Capital Retro8:46 am 25 Dec 19

In what way could the PM be showing “leadership” and support other than the symbolic hugs and ASLAN supported media interviews?

When Tony Abbott was fighting fires as a volunteer, the haters bleated.
When Scott Morrison was not fighting fires, the haters frothed.
But is anyone asking where the ACT Chief Minister is as fires burn around Canberra?

rationalobserver3:02 pm 23 Dec 19

Of course not, he’s a lefty!
Let’s not forget that the Qld Premier is currently on a cruise, allegedly.

This is the second time Morrison’s gone missing during the fires. The first time was in mid Nov with the fires well and truly underway Morrison vanishes for a few day. No explanation, nothing. Then he vanishes again in late Dec and gets caught out. A few questions need to asked of our Liberal representative Zed about why our PM keeps disappearing during natural disasters.

If you want to take holidays when they suit you – get a casual job in a hardware store or something. If you want to lead a Country – existential circumstances take precedence over your “pre-booked hawaii holiday”.

Dot The Possum12:09 pm 21 Dec 19

“The ability to get along without an exceptional leader is the mark of social vigor.” (Eric Hoffer) Get over it snowflakes.

So many haters here in what is supposed to be our season of good will. Good will means looking for the best in people, walking in their shoes, forgiving fault and not demonising others. Enjoy your Christmas with your friends and family and try to live a decent life.

I’m willing to bet if Andrew Barr were holidaying when a fire ripped through the ACT at Xmas you would be the first calling for him to be hung drawn and quartered. Or throw him in a chaff bag.

Capital Retro11:23 am 24 Dec 19

Well, it has been been asked on this thread already why these personal attacks did not happen when Jon Stanhope (ACT Cheif Minister in 2003) could not be located; even his close confidantes didn’t know where he was and he never explained his absence either.

Stanhope was on holidays and came back when the fires were well and truely high up in the Brindies posing no danger at that stage to Canberra.

On his first day back he was in a helicopter when another near by had to ditch.

Now I am sure you will disagree but that is a tad different to Morrison.

And btw my issue with Morrison is not that he went on holidays, when or where either but the shear arrogance and hypocrisy of the man when it was clear that he should have been back here and his history of condemning others. He is just a wonderful example of modern Christianity.

rationalobserver7:58 am 25 Dec 19

Wasn’t Barr down the coast at his holiday house?

Capital Retro7:50 pm 25 Dec 19

I can’t see what your point is about Stanhope coming back from holidays when the fires were posing no threat to Canberra. Indeed, Stanhope participated in assisting the Southcare rescue crew after the stricken pilot had been already rescued from the sinking helicopter-his efforts were commendable and he was justly recognized by receiving a bravery award a a later time.

More to the point was that happened on the 13th January 2003 and the fire which devestated parts of Canberra rushed in from the McIntyres Hut area on the 18th January 2003, five days later.

It was on the latter date that there were problems contacting Stanhope.

Capital Retro8:33 am 26 Dec 19

Barr didn’t become an MLA until 2006. You may be thinking of the then ActewAGL CEO (or chairman) John Mackay who related his story on ABC 666 about being in his holiday house on the south coast and getting a phone call to return to Canberra immediately and take charge of the bushfire situation.

HiddenDragon8:43 pm 20 Dec 19

The “optics”, to use that term, are terrible – particularly given Morrison’s 2010 spray against Christine Nixon, but I have yet to hear a specific example of how the alleged “leadership vacuum” has made a practical difference to fighting the fires.

We have been told repeatedly that the Commonwealth has not denied the States anything they have asked for, and no one currently responsible for leading the fire fighting effort has contradicted that.

With the worst of the fires so far in NSW, are the critics suggesting that Gladys needs her hand held, by a bloke……..?

SlowMo wouldn’t have had time to meet with anyone as he was too busy ensuring you can only get work with government funded religious charities, schools, hospitals, aged care centres etc if you sign up with the sky fairy brigade.

Capital Retro1:17 pm 20 Dec 19

I recall that during the 2003 Canberra bushfires there were difficulties locating our Chief Minister and action that should have been taken earlier to possibly avert the fire reaching Canberra was not taken.

As long as natural disasters like bushfires happen these things will happen.

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