As Nation Burns, Australians Turn Rage on Their PM

Anger is mounting over Scott Morrison's wildfire response
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2020 7:47 AM CST
As His Nation Burns, Australia's PM Is Feeling the Heat
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tours the fire devastated Wildflower farm owned by Paul and Melissa Churchman in Sarsfield, Victoria, on Friday.   (James Ross/Pool Photo via AP)

The question a few weeks ago was "where the bloody hell" was Scott Morrison. The question now is whether Australia's prime minister can survive the crisis at home and serve out a full three-year term. As the AP reports, there's been an eruption of anger over Morrison's "lethargic" response to wildfires, which have killed at least 26 people. Indeed, the uproar is "likened to the furious reaction of Americans toward President George W. Bush over his clumsy response to Hurricane Katrina." A retailer in Morrison's hometown of Sydney began selling Hawaiian shirts bearing his face, with proceeds going to firefighting efforts, as the PM escaped to Hawaii last month. Since returning, Morrison has been cursed out of a town and called a "moron," "an idiot," and more over his inaction on climate change. Then there was an awkward meeting with a woman who was reluctant to shake his hand.

A Guardian video shows Morrison moving the woman's hand forward to shake his own. Some got the feeling that he only wanted a photo op. "You won't be getting any votes down here! You are out!" a local later shouted. Morrison was next seen inspecting fire-ravaged communities in a Liberal Party ad featured on a website asking for political donations, but it was pulled amid complaints that the party was exploiting the disaster. This is all made worse by comparisons of Morrison and former prime minister Tony Abbott, whom Morrison helped oust as Liberal leader in 2015. Abbott, a volunteer firefighter, was filmed running into a burning home this week, per the Independent. "I think it's done lasting damage to his credibility as a leader," Sydney University political scientist Stewart Jackson tells the AP of the ongoing crisis. "The question's going to be: Can Morrison recover from this?" (More Australia stories.)

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