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Comment on ScoMo from Member for Eden Monaro

Mike Kelly MP has offered the following via his social media site

After hearing Scott Morrison’s statements on return from his holiday in Hawaii, I feel compelled to comment on the issue of his absence. Firstly I am appalled that he turned the nation’s anger at his absence into an ego trip by saying he was touched that Australians wanted him home!!! That is incredibly arrogant and revealing as to his state of mind right now, further exacerbated by his assertion that none of the current crisis means anything to him with regard to revisiting the government’s climate policy.

Of course no one begrudges a PM taking time out with his family but this will always be challenging in the high office he sought and occupies. That comes with the turf and if you can’t cope with it you shouldn’t put your hand up for the job. There are thousands of members of the ADF who are required to make much greater sacrifices of family time. In my 20 years service I was away from my wife and son for six months in Somalia, six months in Bosnia, two months in Kenya, nine months in Timor Leste and a year in Iraq, in addition to all the exercises, training and work commitments that constantly took us away from home. The firies who are busting their guts and putting their lives on the line right now are spending weeks away from jobs and family. In both these situations the families have the added concern that their loved ones may not make it home.

The PM is in the ultimate position of leadership in this nation, controlling the fate of ADF members and making key decisions on national disaster management and response. He also has control of critical policy response to climate change and preparing for the adaptation to the climate change we can’t prevent. He has failed to meet with fire chiefs about the challenges catastrophic fire threats pose to the nation. He has failed to be here during one of the most unprecedented mega fires in our history with its tragic loss of life and property. Not good enough, and neither has been his “acknowledgement” that he has done the wrong thing. It was all entirely knowable and not as he claims a matter of “hindsight”. It was a spectacular failure of judgement and leadership responsibility, and continues to be so as he turns his back on the concession by the Deputy PM Michael McCormack that the situation does demand a review of climate policy.

As the Member for Eden Monaro I am always acutely aware of the seasonal threat of disasters to our region. As a consequence I never take leave out of the region in summer, or out of Australia at any other times, so I can be where I should be as soon as possible for as long as needed. I have always dropped everything and gone straight to any disaster location, sought briefs at Control Centres, gotten on the phone to relevant Ministers to ensure emergency assistance was flowing, contacted and met with insurance companies to ensure rapid and sympathetic response and put pressure on them over policy interpretation issues, worked with Councils on what remediation was needed and corresponded with Ministers to assist with this. I was happy to stand with Prime Minister Turnbull in Bega at the displaced persons reception centre and ensure a bipartisan effort in response to the Far South Coast fire in 2018. I have always tried to discern lessons learned from these disasters by talking to those on the front lines and made representations arising from those lessons.

This is only what any Member should do or anybody who puts themselves in a position of leadership. Scott Morrison has failed this test on every level. I would hope from here he reflects more deeply and perhaps have a look across the Tasman at Jacinda Ardern and how she exercises leadership in a crisis. He might particularly note the bi-partisan passage of legislation this last week on a net zero carbon emissions climate change target by 2050. Let’s do more than just hope this happens.Let’s demand it of him through every means available to us.

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