Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended his office’s use of taxpayer resources to produce and distribute a social media message about Defence deployments to assist during the bushfire crisis.
- Labor leader Anthony Albanese said “everyone knows” Mr Morrison has an advertising background but he was stunned by the post
- Mr Morrison said he authorised the video
- The Government has announced a new national bushfire recovery agency led by former Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin
In a media conference in Canberra as thousands remain in evacuation zones and communities face ongoing fire threats, Mr Morrison denied the 50-second video was an advertisement.
“It wasn’t a Liberal Party-sponsored ad, it was authorised by me — I’m the leader of the Liberal Party — that’s the only authorisation I can post on something that is posted on my [Facebook] page,” he said.
“The same thing that applies to other politicians in Australia … it is simply complying with requirements of Australian law.
“To infer from that that there was some other purpose in these communications — I reject absolutely — absolutely — and the commentary on that along those lines, I think, is false.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said “everyone knows” Mr Morrison has an advertising background, but he was stunned by the post.
“It took six weeks for the Government to agree to a national response and six minutes for them to put out an authorised Liberal Party ad which can only be seen as being for party-political purposes at a time where it requires national leadership and it requires a non-partisan and non-political approach,” he said.
Mr Morrison worked as managing director of Tourism Australia, the agency responsible for marketing the country to international tourists, between 2004 and 2006.
“Yesterday was one of the worst days in what has been an unprecedented, horrendous fire season,” Mr Albanese said.
“And on that day what the Prime Minister decided to do was engage in an act of making a party-political advertisement, which was all about his own image.”
Mr Morrison confirmed the video was produced by his office, but said the cost was negligible.
“It’s on Facebook. It’s put together by my own office. There are no real, honest expenses that are of any significance that are attached to making a Facebook post,” he said.
Colvin to lead bushfire recovery agency
The Government today also announced a new national bushfire recovery agency led by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin.
It will be modelled on an organisation set up to coordinate the response to the North Queensland floods and will report to Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud, working closely with the states and territories to rebuild critical infrastructure.
Mr Morrison said it would also provide mental health and income support to bushfire victims over its two-year lifetime.
“Those who have been in some of these areas will know that this fire and the haze and the fear and the quite extreme conditions will have had a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people in these communities,” he said.
More information about the agency will be offered tomorrow.