Many Australians and even people from around the world are pitching in to help battle the raging bushfires but it’s still the courageous firefighters who are front and center in this battle.
Their efforts and sacrifices have captured the hearts of people around the world.
But there is growing criticism for the way Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been handling the crisis and this was put in stark contrast after a firefighter swore at him in front of the camera before collapsing from exhaustion.
The furious firefighter pulled over on the side of the road in Nelligen, at NSW South Coast, after spotting a cameraman.
“Are you from the media?” he shouted.
When the cameraman replied in the affirmative, the firefighter yelled: “Tell the prime minister to go and get f**ked from Nelligen.”
The firefighter’s female colleague added: “Stand down now.”
Soon after, the firefighter collapsed in exhaustion, later saying: “I’ve already lost seven homes, I’m not going to lose another.”
The beef with Morrison stems from his secretly flying to Hawaii with his family for a holiday in late December even as the bushfires worsened.
To add insult to injury, while visiting Cobargo on the NSW South Coast, he even walked away from a resident who was obviously distraught. He was filmed walking towards a young woman then forcing her to shake his hand, only to walk away when she called for more funding for the NSW Rural Fire Service.
The woman, identified as Zoey Salucci-McDermott, said what the prime minister did broke her heart.
When confronted about why he turned his back on the pregnant woman, Morrison replied: “There were quite a number of people who were there, and other people were wanting to talk to me as well, which is what I went and did.
“What she spoke to me about was the need for more local fire brigade support. That’s what she raised with me when I was talking to her and I went on to meet a number of other people.”
Even Shane Fitzsimmons, NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner, has called out the prime minister, accusing him of stalling plans to up funding for the national aerial firefighting fleet.
At a press conference in Sydney, he said that a funding proposal was submitted 18 months ago but nothing had come of it.
“We need to ensure that we have a locked-in budget so we can secure more long-term arrangements around funding and leasing,” he said.
“We haven’t seen a positive response to that business case. The business case has been with the federal government for 18 months at least.”
In the meantime, “significant damage and destruction” has already been wrought in NSW with only more devastation expected.
Fitzsimmons said that they have already been receiving reports of properties on fire even as firefighters continued to tackle the bushfires.