Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the production and distribution of a Liberal Party advertisement trumpeting the federal government’s actions to fight the national bushfire crisis.
During a tour of NSW fire zones, Mr Morrison was quizzed about the ad being circulated through social media.
At a south coast evacuation centre 82-year-old Fran Rump asked Mr Morrison if it were appropriate to be screening a political advertisement during the crisis, especially one featuring images of himself, and set to an upbeat soundtrack (main picture).
“Isn’t it just cheap political marketing that tries to take advantage of the deadly situation facing so much of our nation?” Mrs Rump asked.
“And doesn’t the ad suggest the Liberal Party alone should be given credit for anything your government has been finally forced, kicking and screaming, into doing?”
After holding his breath in and vigorously shaking Mrs Rump’s right hand and ensuring TV cameras caught the action, Mr Morrison said he disagreed.
“Believe me, I know cheap political marketing when I see it,” he told Mrs Rump as he then began shaking her left hand.
“This video simply outlines all the initiatives we as a visionary and responsive government and me as a decisive Prime Minister have taken.
“It’s quite normal for ads like this to be made and screened. I’m pretty sure even Jacinda Ardern has run Labour Party ads about the White Island volcano tragedy.
“Let me say, as a stable marketing genius, that if she hasn’t then she’s not as smart as everyone seems to suggest,” he said while shaking both of Mrs Rump’s hands.
Before Mrs Rump could follow up her question the Prime Minister gave her hands one more shake then moved on, breathing out but then quickly breathing back in again for the cameras as he forcibly shook the hands of many others at the evacuation centre, even his own at one stage in the confusion.
Reporters following the Prime Minister asked Mrs Rump if his answer had changed her mind.
“Well, he lost me at the start,” she said, prompting reporters to ask her for clarification.
“You mean the bit about his marketing skills?” one reporter prompted, to which Mrs Rump replied: “No, the bit where he said ‘believe me’.”