Australia fires: PM Scott Morrison sorry for Hawaii holiday during crisis

  • December 22, 2019

The Gospers Mountain Fire has destroyed 460,000 hectares (Photo: EPA)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologized for causing “great anxiety” by going on holiday during a mounting wildfire crisis.

Morrison cut short his trip to Hawaii as criticism of him increased.

One person was found dead on Saturday, and wildfires are raging in three states.

Since September, Australia’s bushfire emergency has killed at least nine people, destroyed more than 700 homes and scorched millions of hectares.

Earlier, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack conceded that more had to be done to tackle global warming, after many Australians linked the severity of this year’s fires to climate change.

What did PM Morrison say?

“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,” he said on Sunday.

Speaking after a briefing with fire officials, he said he knew Australians were anxious about the fires but insisted that the emergency response was “the best in the world”.

He conceded that climate change was contributing to changing weather patterns, but denied that it had directly caused Australia’s wildfires.

“It’s not a credible suggestion to make that link,” he argued.

Many Australians have accused Scott Morrison’s government of inaction on global warming, with criticism growing as a heatwave broke records across the country and worsened the fires.

Although climate change is not the direct cause of bushfires, scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate would contribute to Australia’s fires becoming more frequent and intense.

Firefighters’ union leader Leighton Drury previously said Australia was “seeing an absolute lack of leadership from this government, and it is a disgrace”.