Mum Who Refused PM's Handshake Says His Visit Was 'Insincere'
The young mother who refused Scott Morrison's handshake during his visit to Cobargo says she was heartbroken by his response to her pleas for help.
Zoey Salucci-McDermott, 20, told 10 News First that she felt the Prime Minister's visit to her bushfire-ravaged town was insincere, and that she would have spoken with him had he asked how she was doing.
Scott Morrison was greeted with hostility when he arrived at Cobargo, a village in NSW's Bega Valley Shire.
Residents were filmed asking why Kirribilli couldn't burn down and cheering as he drove away not long after he'd arrived.
Salucci-McDermott, a young mother who is 28 weeks pregnant, had refused to shake the PM's hand "until he gave more funding to the RFS".
In footage of the moment, Morrison appears to take the young mum's hand anyway, before turning his back as she tearfully begins to tell him about the loss the town is grappling with.
Speaking on Friday, Salucci-McDermott said she was "in shock" when the PM took her hand and felt heartbroken when he walked away from her.
"It broke my heart, I would have happily sat down and had a cuppa with him if he'd just asked if I was okay," she said.
"I told him it was a war zone, and he walked away, and it broke my heart.
"I couldn't do anything but stand there."
Salucci-McDermott said she had lost everything in the fire apart from her car and what she'd managed to pack into it.
Despite her own issues, she said it was the plight of RFS volunteers that remained at the forefront of her mind.
"Resources are so stretched, and they're going through their own heartbreak," she said.
"They're getting up and working when they've lost everything themselves."
She said she did not believe the Prime Minister's visit was genuine.
"He wasn't here to help us, was he?"
It's a sentiment echoed by another Cobargo local, Danielle Murphy.
Murphy was also seen in footage of Morrison's visit, yelling at the PM.
"Maybe he should have taken people aside, move the cameras aside, come and have a cup of tea and come and speak to the people involved," she said.
"Ask them questions, ask them how has the fire affected them ... it didn't seem to be a question on his lips at all yesterday."
Morrison said he understands the criticism being directed his way because people are "hurting".
"I don't take it personally, I just see it as a sense of frustration and hurt and loss and anger at what is the ferocity of these natural disasters," he told reporters in Bairnsdale, eastern Victoria, on Friday.
"I understand that and we'll seek to provide that comfort and support in whatever way we can. People have suffered great loss. They are feeling very raw.