Tag: Mr Morrison


Who is eligible to receive free child care?


Australia

The childcare sector has been plunged into uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop.

On Thursday, the PM made a pretty big announcement to try and save the sector — that child care will be free.

But what does that actually mean in practice, who is eligible and how’s it going to work?

Here’s what we know so far.

Coronavirus update: Follow the latest news in our daily wrap

What was announced?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced at a press conference that for parents who still need child care right now, it will be free.

To make that happen, Australia’s childcare sector will receive a $1.6 billion boost over the next three months, with the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package to officially start from April 6.

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“Child care and early childhood education is critical,” Mr Morrison said.

“Particularly for those Australians who rely on it so they can go to work every day, particularly those who are working in the such critical areas.”

As part of the latest announcement, support will be provided to Australia’s 13,000 childcare centres to ensure they remain open.

Mr Morrison said the arrangements were to protect more livelihoods during the pandemic.



Photo:

The Federal Government maintains that it’s safe for kids to go to childcare during the pandemic. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

“I don’t want a parent to have to choose between feeding their kids and having their kids looked after, or having their education being provided,” he said.

“This virus is going to take enough from Australians without putting Australian parents in that position of having to choose between the economic wellbeing of their family or the care and support and education of their children.

“I won’t cop a situation where a parent is put in that place with their kids.”

The scheme was developed to complement JobKeeper, helping centres pay the wages of early childhood educators even though enrolments have dropped off, and the funding will go straight to the centres from next week.

External Link:

Tweet @ChildcareAus Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that child care will be free for parents who still need it

Who is eligible to receive free child care?

Education Minister Dan Tehan clarified that parents who are currently sending their kids to child care will be able to do so for free.

“We want as many people being able to work as we possibly can, and we want them to be able to access child care as they need to make sure that their children are being looked after while they’re working” he said on Afternoon Briefing on Thursday.

“We need all our nation’s workers there, helping us deal with this global pandemic.

“What we want to be able to make sure is that their children are being looked after while they help us flatten the curve.”


Video: Dan Tehan outlines changes to childcare arrangements

(ABC News)

Mr Tehan explained that centres should prioritise enrolments for the parents who need it most — parents still working, parents who are struggling to provide safe care for their kids at home, vulnerable children, and then parents who have already taken their kids out of childcare.

“There is a clear priority list that we want centres to take into account,” he said.

“The most important of those are those essential workers and the vulnerable children.”

Can families who unenrolled their kids hold their spot or re-enrol?

As part of the deal, childcare centres who receive the payments must try to re-enrol children who have recently been taken out of child care.

Mr Tehan said to help with that, the Government will waive the gap fee for returning parents, backdated to March 23.

“The hope is that now all parents who need will get the care they want, and those who have sought to disengage from the childcare sector will re-engage with the sector,” he said.

This also depends on spaces available and what your family’s current work situation is.

“We want people to understand that the priority will be given to those who need to be working,” Mr Tehan said.

“The priority will be given to those who can’t care for their children.”

External Link:

Tweet @PatsKarvelas IF YOU TOLD ME 2 MONTHS AGO THAT CHILDCARE WOULD BE FREE MY HEAD WOULD HAVE BLOWN OFF

If families have coped without care so far, do they still have to pay?

Mr Tehan clarified that if a centre has spaces open, parents who hadn’t previously had their kids in child care can enrol them for free.

“We will be putting in place a childcare finder apparatus to make sure you can contact the Department of Education and we will try and assist and help you, but of course there has to be room available at a centre for you to be able to access it,” he said.

“Obviously preference has been given to those who are currently working and using childcare for those children who are vulnerable and those who already have enrolments.

“But where we can help and assist, others who now need child care to help us fight the pandemic, then we’ll be doing what we can to try and find places for those families.”

External Link:

Tweet @AnnastaciaMP I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that childcare will be free for children of essential workers

Why is Goodstart Early Learning different?

The free child care plan is linked with the JobKeeper scheme — which applies differently to businesses who have over $1 billion revenue.

Goodstart Early Learning employees were not previously eligible for JobKeeper payments for that reason.

Mr Tehan said discussions are continuing with the company, but it’s not clear at this stage whether they will or won’t be able to access the latest rounds of assistance.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast.

“Obviously, they will benefit from what we have announced today, which puts a baseline into their funding,” Mr Tehan said during the announcement.

“I am not saying that exemptions will be made, I am saying that we will continue to liaise and discuss these issues through with them.”

Goodstart Early Learning Advocacy Manager John Cherry also spoke on Afternoon Briefing soon after the announcement, and said discussions with the Government had been positive so far.

“The frustration for us is we suspect we’re going to miss out on qualifying for JobKeeper because we’re a slightly larger organisation and just tipped over the threshold that requires us to show a 50 per cent reduction in turnover,” he said.

“We had to let 3,000 casual workers go last week because we had no certainty about funding.

“Today we still have no certainty … I really wish we had. I really would have liked to have been in a better position to provide certainty for our 60,000 families and 16,000 staff.”

Goodstart Early Learning confirmed on their Facebook page on Thursday evening that children enrolled at any of their centres were eligible for free care if parents were working, searching for work or studying.



Photo:

It’s not known at this stage exactly how parents will transition back to paying for child care after the pandemic. ( AAP/Paul Braven, file)

What happens when the pandemic ends?

It’s the question all of Australia and most of the world is asking (and not just about child care).

Mr Tehan said the arrangements will be in place up until June 30 with a review after one month, with plans for a further three months after the end of the financial year.

It’s unclear at this stage exactly how the system will revert back after the pandemic ends, but Mr Tehan indicated that it’s unlikely the free child care arrangement would be permanent.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

“Our desire, our want, is to get us through this pandemic and then we would like things to go back to normal,” he said.

“That would be when we would look at reintroducing the system that we currently have in place.

“Obviously for the next six months, while we’re dealing with the pandemic, we want those workers who are out there helping us get through the pandemic to be able to get the support they need through free child care.”

External Link:

Tweet @samanthamaiden PM stresses this free childcare deal is temporary

Money aside, is it safe for my kids to be in childcare right now?

The Government’s current advice remains that childcare centres should remain open, as made clear by Thursday’s announcement, and that it’s safe for kids to be there.

“There is no health risk to children going to school or going to child care,” Mr Morrison said.

“That has been the clear and consistent advice that the government has received.”

While most states are now on school holidays or have gone pupil-free this week, schools are expected to remain open next term (subject to medical advice).

Many schools are transitioning to online learning, but the Prime Minister has previously said that no students will be turned away when school resumes after Easter.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:


Video: David Speers and the panellists discuss the Government's response to the coronavirus pandemic

(ABC News)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Here’s how much money you’ll receive in the new coronavirus stimulus package


Australia

As Australia’s economy is left reeling from the flow-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government has unveiled a suite of new measures designed to soften the blow.

The $66 billion package includes relief for retirees, and a “safety net” for workers already bearing the brunt of the crisis.

With no end in sight, it’s sure to be a welcome relief for those who’ve been calling for a lifeline.

But what do the new measures actually mean for your pay packet? And who is set to benefit?

1. Casuals and sole traders

If you’ve found yourself affected by the economic downturn, you’ll be able to access a “coronavirus supplement” of $550 a fortnight for the next six months.

That’s on top of other benefits — so if you’re already receiving payments through Jobseeker (formerly known as Newstart), you can claim both.

Sole traders and casual workers who are currently making less than $1,075 a fortnight will be eligible to receive the full supplement.



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Sole traders and casual workers who are currently making less than $1,075 a fortnight will be eligible to receive the full supplement. (ABC North Queensland: Nathalie Fernbach)

In practice, that means if you’re a single parent (receiving a maximum fortnightly payment of $612 through Jobseeker), for example, and you meet the criteria, you’ll take home about $1,162 a fortnight.

“This means anyone eligible for the maximum Jobseeker payment will now receive more than $1,100 a fortnight, effectively doubling the Jobseeker allowance,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Sole traders or casual workers who have had their income or hours reduced by 20 per cent or more as a result of coronavirus will also be able to access to up to $10,000 of their superannuation tax-free.

2. Households

If you’re not eligible to receive the coronavirus supplement, you could still be able to claim a $750 stimulus payment.

The payment will be made automatically from July 13 to about 5 million Australians, including those receiving the age pension, a carers allowance or family tax benefit and Commonwealth senior card holders.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

That’s in addition to a separate $750 stimulus payment announced earlier this month.

“This is clearly saying that we expect this to go on for some time and we know that those vulnerable groups may need additional income support during those periods,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“Yes, it will provide some sort of support for the economy, but it will also provide some very real financial support for the most vulnerable in our community.”

3. Pensioners

Deeming rates will be reduced by a further 0.25 percentage points to reflect the latest rate reductions by the RBA, which follows similar cuts made earlier this month.

This is important because deeming rates are used for the pension income assessment — and therefore affect how much someone will receive through their pension.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

From the beginning of May, the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent and the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent.

To put things in perspective, when deeming rates were reduced by half a percentage point in the first stimulus package, National Seniors estimated age pensioners would receive on average an additional $219 per year.

According to the Government, the change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including age pensioners, and is estimated to cost $876 million over the forward estimates period.



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The change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including age pensioners. (AAP: Glenn Hunt)

4. Employers who want to keep staff

Not-for-profits and small businesses with a turnover under $50 million will receive a tax-free cash payment of up to $100,000 to help them retain staff and continue operating.

The Government expects 690,000 businesses employing 7.8 million people and 30,000 not-for-profits will be eligible for measures in the stimulus package.



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By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers. (Unsplash: Mitchell Hollander)

It doesn’t mean extra pocket money if you’re an employee, but by linking the payments to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be given an incentive to hold on to more of their workers.

“We know that small businesses are enormously resilient but this is really hurting them,” Mr Morrison said.

“Whether it is a coffee shop or mechanic or hairdresser… by providing at a minimum $20,000 and up to $100,000 for small businesses who employ people, [it] gives them a chance to get to the other side.”

Expect more to come…

An important thing to keep in mind is that this is the second suite of measures announced by the Government in just a matter of weeks.

The first, announced on March 12, also included one-off cash payments for welfare recipients, and changes to welfare payments for casual workers who contracted COVID-19 or had to isolate themselves.

In announcing Sunday’s package, Mr Morrison himself warned that it would not be his “last visit to these podiums”.



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In announcing the package on Sunday morning, Mr Morrison himself warned that it would not be his “last visit to these podiums”. (AAP: Lukas Coch)

“There will be more packages and more support,” he said.

“There will be more issues that even now have not presented themselves or could not even be conceived at this point.”

So, if you’re doing it tough, expect more measures in the near future.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:


Video: Q+A: Coronavirus testing criteria slammed

(ABC News)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Peter Dutton diagnosed with coronavirus


Australia

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed he has coronavirus.

Key points:

  • Peter Dutton tested positive after waking up with a temperature and sore throat
  • He will remain in hospital where he will be treated for the virus
  • The Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers will not go into self-isolation

The Federal Government frontbencher said he felt fine but woke up with a temperature and sore throat.

“I immediately contacted the Queensland Department of Health and was subsequently tested for COVID-19,” Mr Dutton said in a statement.

“I was advised by Queensland Health this afternoon that the test had returned positive.

“It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice.

“I feel fine and will provide an update in due course.”

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Mr Dutton was in Sydney for a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and returned to Brisbane on a commercial flight on the same day.

“In advice provided to the Prime Minister this evening, the deputy chief medical officer has reiterated that only people who had close contact with the Minister in the preceding 24 hours before he became symptomatic need to self-isolate,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“That does not include the Prime Minister or any other members of the Cabinet.”

Mr Morrison will not be tested for COVID-19, based on medical advice.



Photo:

Scott Morrison will not go into isolation despite being at a meeting with Peter Dutton on Tuesday. (ABC News: Adam Kennedy)

Mr Dutton participated in Cabinet’s national security committee meeting on Thursday, during which the Government decided to extend its China, Italy, Iran and South Korean travel bans, via phone.

The US deputy press secretary, Judd Deere, released a statement saying the White House was aware Mr Dutton had tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr Dutton had been in the US last week, where he met with Ivanka Trump, Attorney-General William Barr and officials from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance on March 6, according to a Twitter post from Australia’s embassy in the United States.

“He was asymptomatic during the interaction,” the statement said.

“Exposures from the case were assessed and the White House Medical Unit confirmed, in accordance with CDC guidance, that Ivanka is exhibiting no symptoms and does not need to self-quarantine.

“She worked from home today out of an abundance of caution until guidance was given.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

When someone contracts COVID-19, health officials alert people who have been in contact with them.

They are then expected to self-isolate at home and monitor their health for 14 days after the contact with the infected person.

“Following confirmation the Minister for Home Affairs has tested positive for coronavirus, he has been isolated according to the policies of Queensland Health,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said.

“Queensland Health will undertake the appropriate contact tracing.”

Earlier on Friday, Mr Morrison met with state and territory leaders to assess Australia’s response to the spread of coronavirus.



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The Prime Minister spent Friday with premiers and chief ministers. (AAP: David Gray)

Mr Dutton missed his usual Friday morning appearance on commercial TV, at the time being described as having a “stomach bug”.

On Monday, he opened a new Moreton Bay campus for the University of the Sunshine Coast, alongside Education Minister Dan Tehan and former defence chief Angus Houston.

Mr Dutton met with United States Attorney-General William Barr and US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka while in Washington DC last week.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gone into 14-day isolation after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus.


Video: Biosecurity expert Raina MacIntyre assesses Australia's response to the coronavirus

(7.30)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


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


Australia

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.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


Scott Morrison’s father John dies aged 84


Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced his father, John, has died “quietly and peacefully” at the age of 84.

Mr Morrison said in a statement that he “received the sad news” on Wednesday night that his “much-loved” father, a former policeman and councillor, had died.

“He was a loving husband to my mum Marion for 57 years,” Mr Morrison said.

“He was a wonderful father to me and my brother Alan. He loved Jen as a daughter and was a devoted grandfather to our girls.”

John Morrison was a former officer with NSW Police and had served as a local councillor and mayor at Sydney’s Waverley Council.

“He lived a great life and was much loved,” Mr Morrison said.



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Scott Morrison’s parents Marion and John witnessed his unexpected election win last May. (ABC News: Marco Catalano)

Mr Morrison has repeatedly paid tribute to his father since becoming Prime Minister in 2018.

“My parents laid the foundation for my life,” the Prime Minister said in his first speech in the Federal Parliament.

“Together with my brother, Alan, they demonstrated through their actions their Christian faith and the value they placed on public and community service. In our family, it has never been what you accumulate that matters, but what you contribute.

“I thank them for their sacrifice, love and, above all, their example.”



Photo:

Scott Morrison has thanked his father for the guidance he offered his family. (Facebook: Scott Morrison)

Mr Morrison’s mother, Marion, appeared with her son and his family during the election campaign.

His father was present on election night when Mr Morrison and the Coalition unexpectedly won the federal election.

“Dad had a deep and committed Christian faith, which is one of his numerous legacies in my life,” Mr Morrison said on Thursday.

“Our family will miss him terribly, but we are extremely thankful for his great blessing in all of our lives.”



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Scott Morrison’s parents Marion and John Morrison. (Twitter: Scott Morrison)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


$76 million funding package aimed at tackling Australian tourism’s ‘biggest challenge in living memory’


Australia

The Federal Government has announced a $76 million recovery package in response to this summer’s bushfires, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying Australian tourism is facing “its biggest challenge in living memory”.

Key points:

  • The recovery package includes funding to attract domestic and international visitors
  • While money has also been allocated for grants for “new attractions” in bushfire affected regions
  • The Australian Tourism Industry Council estimates the bushfires have cost the country “hundreds of millions” of dollars

Mr Morrison described the funding — drawn from the Government’s national bushfire recovery fund — as an “urgent injection” of funds for businesses impacted by the bushfire crisis.

The Australian Tourism Industry Council has estimated the bushfire crisis has cost the national industry “hundreds of millions” of dollars and damaged Australia’s brand internationally, with a perception “the whole country’s on fire”.

The crisis has led to the highly publicised ‘Matesong’ tourism campaign being paused in the UK as well as the United States upgrading its travel advisory for Australia to “level two” — warning Americans to “exercise increased caution”.

This week, the Australian Tourism Export Council told the Australian Financial Review cancellations by tourists from large markets such as the US, UK and China was hurting the industry and could cost the country at least $4.5 billion by the end of the year.

The Government’s package includes $20 million for marketing to domestic travellers and $25 million for a global tourism campaign to advise international visitors that Australia is “safe and open for business”, as well as $10 million towards creating new attractions in bushfire affected regions of the country.


Video: The Tourism Australia ad 'Matesong' was pulled from UK screens

(ABC News)

“Australian tourism is facing its biggest challenge in living memory,” Mr Morrison said in a statement announcing the funding package.

“One in 13 Australian jobs rely on tourism and hospitality, so our $76 million investment is an urgent injection to help all those hotels, restaurants and cafes and tour operators get back on their feet.

“This is make or break for many businesses and tourist hot spots and not just in those areas directly hit by the bushfires.

As Australia burns, is our reputation at risk?
Could the international call to arms and subsequent influx of foreign aid and donations damage our national reputation?

“This is about getting more visitors to help keep local businesses alive and protect local jobs right across the country and especially in those areas so directly devastated such as Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains and right along the NSW Coast and East Gippsland in Victoria. “

The funding will provide grants of up to $1.5 million per project for events such as concerts and festivals — as well as permanent attractions such as art installations and tourist walks — in fire-affected regions, with the worst-impacted areas to be prioritised.

The package also includes funding to encourage international publicity for Australia’s tourism industry and spread the message that Australia’s educational and export sectors are still open for business, as well as drive attendance to the Australian Tourism Exchange.

Industry welcomes funding but warns of tough times ahead

The tourism industry broadly welcomed the Government’s announcement, but warned there was a long road ahead for businesses doing it tough.

“People are believing everything they see on social media — the country’s on fire, top to bottom, coast to coast, don’t go to Uluru because it’s on fire, Sydney airport’s on fire — crazy stuff,” Margy Osmond from the Tourism and Transport Forum said.

External Link:

The Canberra, Come Back video was made by Batemans Bay businesses.

“We have an enormous international problem, in terms of how people are now viewing us.

“We’re going to have to do another big piece of brand work, but I think that’s a bit further down the track.”

Early figures from Tourism Australia showed international bookings were down by between 20 and 30 per cent for the first fortnight of 2020, with visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and China among those choosing to stay away.

As with most of the money being announced for fire recovery, the response across the political spectrum has been welcoming.

‘This is a marathon, not a sprint’
Charities on the front line of the bushfire recovery effort are pleading with corporate Australia not to go too hard out of the blocks with big cash donations while ignoring long-term commitments.

However, the Greens argued damage to the tourism sector was another example of the Coalition’s mismanagement of the bushfire crisis.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the Coalition had repeatedly ignored warning signs about the threat of fires, and the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals was just one consequence.

“We’ve got a huge social and health crisis on our hands, with the impact of poor air quality, which won’t be known for years to come,” Senator Di Natale said.

“What we’ve seen is a catastrophe — it is unprecedented, but unprecedented doesn’t mean unforeseen.”

The threat posed by the bushfires to the country’s tourism industry has inspired Australians to launch their own community-driven campaigns to encourage people to go back to impacted areas, such as a video by Batemans Bay businesses urging Canberra residents to return to the South Coast of NSW.

The community campaigns come on top of hundreds of millions of dollars donated to charities by the public, celebrities and philanthropists.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news


‘Welcome he deserved’: Liberal MP speaks out as bushfire victims, firefighters shun PM


Bega 2550

Senior NSW Liberal Andrew Constance says the Prime Minister got “the welcome he probably deserved” when he was yesterday heckled by angry residents in a bushfire-ravaged town.

Key points:

  • Mr Constance, is the NSW Government’s Transport Minister
  • The PM yesterday visited the town of Cobargo, which is in Mr Constance’s electorate
  • Mr Morrison said he wouldn’t take Mr Constance’s comments personally

Pictures from Scott Morrison’s awkward visit to Cobargo, on the NSW South Coast, were beamed around the world and went viral on social media.

People in the town, where a father and son died in a blaze earlier this week, shouted and heckled the Prime Minister during the brief trip.

Mr Constance said he was not aware Mr Morrison would be visiting his electorate of Bega, which includes Cobargo, and told Seven News that “I haven’t had a call from him”.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.



Photo:

Dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed in Cobargo. (Supplied)

Speaking from Bairnsdale, in Victoria’s fire-affect East Gippsland region, the Prime Minister apologised to Mr Constance and said “I totally understand how he’d be feeling”.

“I’ve reached out to him today, and offered that apology to him,” Mr Morrison said.

“I was under the understanding that we had made contact with him. That wasn’t the case. And that’s regretted.

“But I assumed that he was otherwise occupied on that day, which would be completely understandable.

“But Andrew’s been through a terrible, terrible experience and ordeal, and so I totally understand how he’d be feeling.”



Photo:

Andrew Constance said Scott Morrison “probably got the welcome he deserved”. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Speaking on Sunrise, Mr Constance had earlier savaged the Prime Minister.

“To be honest with you, the locals probably gave him the welcome he probably deserved,” he said.

“I say this to the Prime Minister today, the nation wants you to open up the cheque books, obviously help people rebuild their lives.”

Mr Morrison’s visit to Cobargo made international headlines.

During one particularly tense interaction, Mr Morrison grabbed the hand of a woman who had refused to shake his hand.

As the Prime Minister was leaving, people swore at him and told him he should be “ashamed of himself” after he “left the country to burn”.


Video: Scott Morrison forces Zoey Salucci McDermott to shake his hand in Cobargo

(ABC News)

In another exchange, Mr Morrison grabbed the hand of an exhausted firefighter in Cobargo who told him “I don’t really want to shake your hand”.

“Tell that fella I’m really sorry, I’m sure he’s just tired,” Mr Morrison told a local incident controller afterwards.

“No, no. He lost a house,” the area’s fire controller responded.

Mr Morrison was criticised for holidaying in Hawaii while the deadly bushfire emergency gripped NSW and Queensland in December.

Some people have also taken aim at his Government for not doing enough to combat climate change.



Photo:

This terrifying blaze razed parts of Cobargo on Tuesday. (Supplied: Josh Mead)

Mr Constance, who defended his own home in the area from flames on Tuesday, said “this was the feeling people were going through”.

“Having lived through this myself, it’s tough,” he said.

“You can’t experience this … it’s cruel, it’s nasty. The Cobargo community lost people, a wonderful family there.”

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stood by Mr Constance during an interview with 2GB on Friday morning.

“I don’t begrudge anyone who is on the ground … I don’t begrudge anyone for feeling the way they do,” she said.

“I know Andrew has raw emotion as do many members of his community and I don’t blame people for feeling angry.”



Photo:

Robert and Patrick Salway died defending their Cobargo property on New Year’s Eve. (Supplied)

Liz Innes, the Mayor of the neighbouring Eurobodalla Shire Council, apologised to the Prime Minister in the wake of his chaotic visit.

“There’s a few examples of not so great behaviour and so I just want to say sorry to Scott Morrison for the behaviour and treatment he received,” she said.

“Look I know people are scared, they’re angry, they’re hurt but that’s not the images that I want to see coming out of my beautiful area.”

After the confrontations in Cobargo, Mr Morrison told the ABC: “I’m not surprised people are feeling very raw at the moment.

“That’s why I came today, to be here, to see it for myself [and] offer what comfort I could.

“I understand the strong feelings people have; they’ve lost everything. There’s been a lot of emotion … and I understand that emotion.”

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




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