— With AAP.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has apologised for holidaying in Hawaii while much of Australia burned, but has also stressed now is not the time for point-scoring but rather “a time to be kind to each other”.
The Liberal leader returned to Sydney on Saturday night following days of criticism over his decision to take a family holiday.
On Sunday morning Morrison confirmed he’d been in Hawaii with his family on a trip that was planned six weeks ago.
“If you had your time over again and you had the benefit of hindsight we would have made different decisions,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
“I am sure Australians are fair-minded and understand that when you make a promise to your kids you try and keep it.
“But as prime minister, you have other responsibilities, and I accept that and I accept the criticism.”
.@ScottMorrisonMP has arrived back in Australia after cutting a family holiday to Hawaii short to respond to the bushfire crisis. The prime minister has just addressed firefighters at the @NSWRFS headquarters. #auspol #NSWFires #7NEWS https://t.co/3FcWYbF0jZ
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) December 21, 2019
Morrison said to the people he’d upset by being away: “I apologise for that.”
The prime minister said he wasn’t a trained firefighter and obviously wouldn’t be in the field holding a hose.
“But I’m comforted by the fact that Australians would like me to be here just simply so I can be here, alongside them, as they are going through this terrible time.”
He said the focus should now be on the bushfire emergency.
“It’s time to be kind to each other,” he said.
“This is not a time for division, argument, partisanship or point-scoring. It’s a time to support people who have a very important job to do.”
Scott Morrison: “I have returned from leave and I know that has caused some great anxiety in Australia and Jenny and I acknowledge that. If we had your time over again and the benefit of hindsight we would have made different decisions.”
— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) December 21, 2019