Morrison’s bushfire social media video receives personal rebuke from Defence Chief


Australian Defence Force (ADF) Chief Angus Campbell called Scott Morrison, uncomfortable about Defence imagery being used in a promotional video posted by the Prime Minister at the height of the bushfire crisis.

Key points:

  • Scott Morrison posted a video on social media after announcing Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel would join the bushfire response efforts
  • Labor criticised the video, accusing the Government of politicising the crisis
  • ADF Chief Angus Campbell admitted he was “discomfited” by the video

In early January, the Prime Minister posted a video on social media outlining the Coalition’s response to the bushfire emergency, with blazes raging across a number of states.

The video mentioned the deployment of ADF personnel to assist with the response, as well as extra money the Federal Government was allocating to areas such as water-bombing operations.

External Link:

Scott Morrison tweet on January 4 2020: "We’re putting more Defence Force boots on the ground, more planes in the sky, more ships to sea, and more trucks to roll in to support the bushfire fighting effort and recovery as part of our co-ordinated response to these terrible #bushfires"

The Federal Opposition was highly critical of the video, accusing the Prime Minister of turning the summertime inferno into an opportunity for political advertising — given the video carried an official authorisation message at the end from Mr Morrison.

In Senate Estimates, Labor senators took the opportunity to raise the matter with General Campbell.

“Whenever the Australian Defence Force, or any other apolitical body, finds itself between political parties, I am discomfited,” he told an estimates committee.

“The Australian Defence Force in particular needs to, wherever possible, always be in a non-partisan both reality and perception.

“I’m discomfited, but I didn’t see ill intent in the actions.

“I appreciate that this conversation is an example of where the ADF does not want to be.”

General Campbell said he called Mr Morrison a short time after the video was posted and personally raised his concerns.

Video: ADF Chief Angus Campbell said he raised concerns with the Prime Minister over the bushfire video

(ABC News)

Labor seized upon the comments, attacking the Prime Minister over the issue in Question Time.

“The Liberal Party did not post an advertisement,” Mr Morrison said.

“This was important information communicated to the Australian people.

“I observed, Mr Speaker, the requirements of the Australian Electoral Act that any such videos need a proper authorisation, and that authorisation was provided.”

Mr Morrison then accused the Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, of using the bushfire emergency to post videos to social media.