Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday dismissed a suggestion that the country has lost faith in his leadership amid the ongoing bushfire crisis that has claimed the lives of 23 people and caused widespread destruction.
Asked about criticism of his handling on the bushfires at the weekend, Morrison said in a press conference that it would not stop him from getting on with the job at hand, Xinhua news agency.
“There has been plenty of criticism,” he told reporters. “I can’t be distracted by that.”
“What (the public) needs us to do is to focus on, all of us actually. All of us, focusing on the needs and the communities in getting the support where it needs to go. That is very much my focus,” he added.
The nationwide bushfire death toll since September rose to at least 23 after two people on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island and one in New South Wales were reported dead.
Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced that 3,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) reservists will be deployed to help with the recovery from catastrophic bushfires in an unprecedented move.
The pair also announced A$20 million ($13 million) in funding for four additional fire-fighting aircraft and the deployment of Royal Australian Air Force and Navy craft for rescue efforts.
hane Fitzsimmons, the commissioner of New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service, on Sunday morning told reporters that he was “disappointed and frustrated” that the government had not told him about the ADF support before announcing it publicly.