Photo of Morrison in Hawaii emerges amid backlash
A photo appearing to show Scott Morrison on holiday in Hawaii has emerged, as the Prime Minister prepares to return to Australia.
The image, posted on Instagram yesterday, features Mr Morrison with a group of Australian tourists, an idyllic ocean backdrop behind them.
"Not in my wildest dream did I ever imagine I would have the opportunity to share a few bevvies and chat about many things with the Prime Minister of Australia," the woman who posted it said in the caption.
"Contrary to belief, he's actually a bit of a legend."
She added the hashtags #wherethebloodyhellareya and #itsonscomostab.
News.com.au has asked the Prime Minister's office if the photo was of Mr Morrison in Hawaii. His office is yet to confirm or deny the photo is from his holiday.
At the time it was posted, Mr Morrison's office still had not confirmed where he was. It would only say he was on leave and overseas with his family.
This morning Mr Morrison did finally confirm he was in Hawaii, as he announced he was returning home.
He said he and his wife Jenny had taken their daughters there as a "nice surprise", as diplomatic trips to Japan and India in January will prevent them from taking their usual trip over the Christmas period.
"That (Hawaii) is sometimes where we go privately for our holidays. We spend a lot of time in Australia on our holidays as well," Mr Morrison told 2GB radio.
"We had planned to spend it down the South Coast as we usually do, but we had to bring it forward because of those commitments we had in India and Japan. So we had to tell the girls we wouldn't be spending as much time down there, so in return I tried to give them a bit of a nice surprise and take them here.
"I think that's what dads try and do if they can, when they've been working hard all year. I know there are lots of dads and mums out there who've been working hard all year try to treat their kids at this time of year, and that's what I was trying to do. It's just unfortunate it's come at such an awful time, particularly for those living in and around Sydney and NSW.
"And it's just devastating to be here and seeing what's happening there, so I'm pleased to be returning."
The Prime Minister's decision to return early from his holiday came after the tragic death of two volunteer firefighters overnight.
The NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers are believed to have been travelling in a truck near the town of Buxton when it hit a tree and rolled off the road.
The driver and front passenger died at the scene, police said, while three others were injured.
"Over the course of the past week I have been taking leave with my family. Our leave was brought forward due to the need to cancel our scheduled leave in January because of our official government visit to India and Japan," Mr Morrison said in an official statement.
"I deeply regret any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time.
"I have been receiving regular updates on the bushfires disaster as well as the status of the search and treatment of the victims of the White Island tragedy. The Commonwealth's responsibilities have been well managed by the Acting Prime Minister, Minister Littleproud and Minister Payne.
"Given the most recent tragic events, I will be returning to Sydney as soon as can be arranged."
Mr Morrison also expressed his "sincere condolences and sympathies" to the fallen firefighters' families.
"They were bravely defending their communities with an unmatched spirit and a dedication that will forever set them apart amongst our most courageous Australians," he said.
"Their sacrifice and their service saving lives and saving properties will be forever remembered. I wish those injured the best in their recovery.
"These fires and heat conditions are horrendous, and there are still difficult days ahead, with Saturday predicted to be the most severe day, with extreme temperatures and wind making conditions very difficult for fire crews. We wish all of those putting themselves in harm's way for all of us all the best. Stay safe, stay together."
On Thursday, more than 20 homes were lost and a state of emergency declared in New South Wales, with firefighters also suffering injuries from battling the blaze.
Protesters surrounded the Prime Minister's Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, including a young girl who was told by police she would have to move on or could face being arrested and have force used against her.