Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for taking a family holiday during the bush fire crisis, in a highly anticipated speech in Sydney this morning.
It comes as around 100 fires continue burning around New South Wales, with seven burning at ‘watch and act’ level today.
Scott Morrison was heavily criticised for holidaying in Hawaii with his family, which he had planned around seven weeks ago.
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He made the decision to return early after two volunteer fire fighters sadly passed away while on duty on Thursday night.
Mr Morrison addressed the media at the Rural Fire Service Headquarters in Sydney this morning, saying he and Jenny’s hearts broke when they heard the news.
“When our volunteers go out there, they do it for so many reasons, but I can’t help but thinking that one of most important things that inspires them is their love of family.
“Family is community, and they were out there defending their community on that faithful night… and Jenny and I, our heart broke, when we heard of their terrible loss and their great sacrifice, and I just want to extend to them our great sympathies, our love and support.
“They’re getting tremendous support from their Rural Fire Service family out there, and from the broader family of fire fighting communities right around the country.
“What the rest of us can offer them is our honour, our acknowledgement, and our respect for what they have done for all of us,” Mr Morrison said.
He then went on to apologise for his absence during what has been a terrible week across the country for bush fires.
Mr Morrison said in hind sight, him and his wife Jenny would have made different decisions.
“I’m sure Australians are fair-minded and understand that when you make a promise to your kids you try and keep it, but as Prime Minister you have other responsibilities and I accept that, and I accept the criticism, and that’s why Jenny and I agreed that it was important that I returned, particularly after the terrible tragedies that we saw late this week.
“I get it that people would have been upset to know that I was holidaying with my family, while their families were under great stress.
“They know that I’m not going to stand there and hold a hose – I’m not a trained fire fighter, nor am I an expert like those who sit in the next room doing such an amazing job.
“But I’m comforted by the fact that Australians would like me to be here, just simply so I can be here alongside them as they’re going through this terrible time.
“And so to those who I had caused upset to, I apologise for that.
“I think it’s important that when you’re confronted with these things that you front up about them and you’re honest with people and that’s what I’m seeking to do now.
“But the time for that discussion is over – we need to focus on what’s going out there today.
“It’s time to be kind to each other, this is not a time for division, it’s not a time for argument, it’s not a time for partisanship, it’s not a time for point scoring.
“It’s a time to support people who have a very important job to do, to give them the space and the time, to give them the support they need,” Mr Morrison said.