Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been reportedly berated by furious locals on arrival at the fire-ravaged town of Cobargo in southern New South Wales.
The town was one of the hardest hit from the devastating infernos that tore across the state’s south east on New Year’s Eve.
The Prime Minister has been widely criticised for an alleged lack of meaningful action to help communities deal with the hundreds of fires that have lashed the country for the last several months.
But his attempt to get out into the fire-affected regions was reportedly met with disdain, with angry protesters telling Mr Morrison he should be “shamed of himself” and that he’s “left the country to burn”.
According to tweets from ABC reporter Victoria Pengilley, the Prime Minister was asked by one local why “we only had four trucks to defend our town?”
“This is not fair, we are totally forgotten about down here.”
Mr Morrison later told the ABC, “I’m not surprised people are feeling very raw at the moment.
“And, that’s why I came today, to be here, to see it for myself; offer what comfort I could.
“But you can’t always in every circumstance, I think everyone understands that.
“I appreciate the welcome we’ve received, Jenny and I, but at the same time, I understand the very strong feelings that people have.
“They’ve lost everything and there are still some very dangerous days ahead. We’re going to do everything we can to ensure they have every support they need,” the Prime Minister said.
“You won’t be getting any votes down here buddy,” a resident reportedly yelled at Mr Morrison.
“Who votes Liberal around here? Nobody.”
“Go home to Kirribilli. Why won’t that burn down?” another local was heard shouting.
“I don’t see Kirribilli burning after the fireworks.”
Mr Morrison has come under sustained criticism of his handling of the bushfire crisis.
He was forced to cut short a US holiday and eyebrows were raised when he hosted the Australian and New Zealand cricket teams at Sydney’s Kirribilli House yesterday while fires were burning in NSW and Victoria.
Yesterday police confirmed a Cobargo father and son died trying to defend their home from the devastating fire that almost completely destroyed the historic NSW village.
The death of 29-year-old Patrick Salway, who died alongside his father as they tried to save their southern NSW farm from fire, has devastated his wife.
“I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will,” Renee Salway said on Tuesday night.
“I will see you again Patrick, my best friend. Hope you are up there ‘fixing things in the stars tonight’.”
Tragically, Renee is pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Patrick, a young father and dairy technician, and his 63-year-old father Robert Salway were found dead on Tuesday by Robert’s wife.
The men had stayed back to save the family home in Wandella, about 10km northwest of the gutted township of Cobargo.
Mr Morrison shut down any questions relating to the government’s perceived inaction at a press conference in Sydney earlier on Thursday.
“Our task has been to fully support and provide whatever assistance is necessary through all the various agencies of the Commonwealth,” he told reporters.
“The provision of disaster payments that have now exceeded some more than $21 million in New South Wales alone and we expect more of that to continue in Victoria as the full devastation of the fires there becomes more evident.”