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Hawaii Tourist Claims Scott Morrison Dismissed Bushfires As A 'State Issue'

A tourist who says he took a picture of Scott Morrison during his overseas holiday has slammed the Prime Minister for sipping cocktails during the bushfire crisis and calling it 'a state issue'.

The man, named Craig, told 10 News First he took the picture of the PM after Morrison had told media he would come back to Australia ASAP.

He claimed when he approached Morrison about the bushfire situation, he was told it was ‘a state issue’.

“He was quite happy to sit here and have cocktails served to him while our firefighters are there doing it really hard,” the tourist claimed.

“He could at least turn up and give them a pat on the back.”

Morrison did cut his trip to Hawaii short by a day, returning to Australia on Saturday night after two firefighters tragically died in an accident on Thursday.

On Sunday, he visited Rural Fire Service headquarters in Sydney for a briefing on the emergency situation in New South Wales.

In a later press conference, he addressed media for the first time since his Hawaii controversy erupted.

"If we had our time over again and the benefit of hindsight, we would have made different decisions," Morrison said.

Morrison has apologised several times to those who were upset by his absence.

In a heated interview on Sunrise on Monday morning, the PM said he had planned his family trip seven weeks ago and was trying to please his young children.

While he admitted he "could have made better decisions", he said the fires had been burning for months and claimed he had visited many fire-affected communities since then.

A fire truck is seen during a bushfire near Bilpin, 90km north-west of Sydney, Thursday, December 19, 2019. Image: AAP

"These fires have been raging since September," he said.

"I mean, Jenny and I, we were up in Canowindra in September, we’ve been in Wauchope, Taree, Wilberforce, we’ve been up at the headquarters there in Queensland.

"These fires have been running for a long time, and they still have time to run yet.

"We will be out there again today… but my concern is for those who have been deeply impacted by them."

Scott Morrison at the RFS headquarters. Image: Supplied

In an op-ed in The Daily Telegraph, Morrison lauded the efforts of the various authorities at the state and federal levels, from the various fire services to the Emergency Management Agency and defence forces.

He also listed current policies around preventing bushfires, such as hazard reduction and land clearing laws as well as " how we can best sustain our extensive volunteer fire fighting effort", saying they will be reviewed after the present emergency ends.

Morrison conceded there was a need for "real action on climate change" across all levels.

"There is no disagreement and there has not been any denial of this critical factor, either by the federal government or any state or territory government.

NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin, Saturday, December 21. Image: AAP

"But to suggest that increasing Australia's climate targets would have prevented these fires or extreme weather events, in Australia or anywhere else, is simply false."

The prime minister pushed back against more stringent action, including calls to end coal exports and set an emissions target.

"We won't embrace reckless targets and abandon our traditional industries that would risk Australian jobs while having no meaningful impact on the global climate," Morrison said.

  • With AAP