Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected claims he is eager to abandon his duties in Australia and return to Hawaii to continue his interrupted family holiday.
During a tour of a regional NSW Rural Fire Service command centre (main picture) Mr Morrison appeared distracted as he handed out Liberal Party pamphlets outlining the initiatives taken by the senior coalition partner with no help whatsoever from the Nationals during the current bushfire crisis.
The Prime Minister did not even respond when command centre supervisor Capt Llew Terrshott remarked on whether Mr Morrison was suitably attired for any visit to a fire ground.
Mr Morrison ignored the comment and turned to question an aide about the whereabouts of his suitcases and whether they contained his air tickets and passport.
Capt Terrshott explained he had some good news for the PM on possible developments in weather patterns.
But the PM interrupted Capt Terrshott to again question his aide, this time on the location of a bottle of tanning lotion.
With that matter settled, Capt Terrshott told Mr Morrison that a low pressure system off the Northern Territory that may turn into a cyclone and deliver heavy rains to the NT may herald a more widespread improvement in weather conditions that would assist firefighters in eastern states.
Mr Morrison was silent for several moments before saying only: “A low huh?”
Capt Terrshott then informed the PM that the command centre would today mark a milestone when it began implementing its Plan E for managing the ongoing bushfire threats.
“Huh? Why E?” Mr Morrison said, to which the RFS official explained management plans were designated with letters of the alphabet and the revised plan would be the fifth iteration for this season.
He began to expand on the designations given to bushfire plans but stopped when he noticed the PM was missing from the room.
On his return a minute or so later the PM was asked by Capt Terrshott where he had been.
“On a loo, Llew,” the PM told Capt Terrshott before quickly brushing past him and departing the command centre at high speed in his official convoy with media representatives instructed not to follow.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Canberra later denied Mr Morrison had flown out of Australia.
“The Prime Minister is definitely in Australia,” a spokesperson said. “Well, definitely in the southern hemisphere – at least for the next few hours.”