CBC: As wildfires grow, so too does anger at Australia PM’s handling of crisis

Scott Morrison criticized for slow response, previous remarks on climate change

The Associated Press · Posted: Jan 05, 2020 3:36 PM ET | Last Updated: January 5

A firefighting helicopter is seen behind Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his visit to HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, on Sunday. (Lukas Coch/Pool/via Reuters)

Cooling temperatures and calmer winds brought some relief Sunday to Australian communities raked by wildfires, but the heat stayed on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to accept responsibility for the crisis and take action.

“There has been a lot of blame being thrown around,” Morrison said at a news conference. “And now is the time to focus on the response that is being made. … Blame doesn’t help anybody at this time and over-analysis of these things is not a productive exercise.”

Morrison announced Saturday that he would dispatch 3,000 army, navy and air force reservists to help battle the fires. He also committed $20 million Australian ($18 million Cdn) to lease fire-fighting aircraft from overseas.

But the moves did little to tamp down the criticism that he had been slow to act, even as he has downplayed the need for his government to address climate change, which experts say played a key role in supercharging the blazes.

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