The past week has been marked by the refusal of public officials, including PM Scott Morrison, to recognise the scale of the crisis
The sky over Cobargo in New South Wales was still tainted yellow on Thursday afternoon when Australia’s prime minister arrived. For the past month, the country had been ablaze, and the village 240 miles south of Sydney and home to 776 people, had been hit hard.
Standing in the crowd, Zoey Salucci McDermott, 20, eyed Scott Morrison coolly. She and her young daughter had lost her home in the fires, so when he extended his hand in greeting, she did not reciprocate. “I’ll only shake your hand if you give more funding to the RFS [Rural Fire Service],” McDermott said, holding back tears. “So many people here have lost their homes. We need more help.” The prime minister turned away.