Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for taking a holiday with his family whilst parts of the country is in the grip of a major bushfire crisis.
Mr Morrison issued a statement on Friday morning, revealing he had to bring forward his leave due to the need to travel to India and Japan in January.
“I deeply regret any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time,” Morrison said.
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“I have been receiving regular updates on the bushfires disaster as well as the status of the search for and treatment of the victims of the White Island tragedy.
“The commonwealth’s responsibilities have been well managed by the Acting Prime Minitser, Minister Littleproud and Minister Payne.”
In another statement, Mr Morrison expressed his sincere condolences and sympathies to the families of the firefighters killed in a tragic accident in NSW overnight.
“I express my sincere condolences and sympathies to the families of the firefighters who have so tragically been killed overnight,” he said.
“They were bravely defending their communities with an unmatched spirit and a dedication that will forever set them apart amongst our most courageous Australians.
“Our hearts go out to their families, friends and colleagues who have been working tirelessly beside them, particularly during this Christmas period.”
Mr Morrison said that “given the most recent tragic events” he will be returning to Sydney from leave as soon as can be arranged.
“The Federal Government stands ready to deploy whatever further assistance State and Territory authorities request to manage this disaster.”
It comes after Mr Morrison received a barrage of criticism online for deciding to take leave during one of the country’s largest disasters.