A mother facing Christmas without her teenage son while he battles bushfires says the prime minister’s trip to Hawaii is a kick in the face to thousands of fire fighters’ families who won’t get to holiday together this festive season.
Lisa Evans wrote an emotional post on Facebook this week criticising the timing of Scott Morrison’s overseas holiday with his wife and two daughters.
The letter details her fears and frustrations that the country’s leader decided to leave Australia for a family holiday, when she won’t be spending her holiday with her own family.
Former teacher and Moss Vale resident Lisa Evans, 53 wrote an emotional open letter criticising Prime Minister Scott Morrison for taking a holiday while volunteer fire-fighters aren’t able to rest during the bushfire crisis
In the letter, Ms Evans speaks of the pain and suffering the communities are feeling as they battle through the bushfires, while Mr Morrison enjoys the sun and sand of a beach holiday.
‘Have you ever breathed so much smoke Mr Morrison that your throat burns? I guess not in Hawaii,’ she wrote.
‘Have you ever had your lips peel so badly that they bleed from the intense heat? Probably not in Hawaii.’
‘Have you been gasping for just a tiny drink of water but can’t because you know there isn’t enough for everyone. Guess not in Hawaii’.
The mother-of-two lives in Moss Vale in the NSW Southern Highlands, after relocating from Sydney 11 years ago.
She told Daily Mail Australia her message was not meant to be political, but a show of support for the volunteers, including her 18-year-old son Sam – who put their lives on the line every day.
‘I’m just really upset that these guys and girls are constantly volunteering their time, their lives, they don’t have the resources,’ she said.
18-year-old volunteer fire-fighter Sam Evans is unlikely to spend Christmas with his mum Lisa Evans because he is likely to be fighting fires across New South Wales
Sam has been a volunteer with the New South Wales rural fire service for three years and is now also a retained fire-fighter with Fire and Rescue New South Wales.
His mother Lisa said he joined after moving to the country because he wanted to give back to the community.
But a recent conversation with her son the other night led to the realisation Lisa would likely be spending Christmas without her son.
‘We know this happens, I know he most probably won’t be with us on Christmas day,’ she said.
Instead of being sad however, she grew frustrated, knowing thousands of volunteers would be in the same position while the leader of Australia enjoyed cocktails by the beach.
Lisa Evans wrote an open letter (pictured) to Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticising him for taking a Hawaii holiday while fire-fighters won’t have a chance to celebrate Christmas with their own families
The emotions she felt come across in the post on social media, where she describes the exhaustion the fire-fighters are feeling after weeks battling the catastrophic fires.
‘My son deserves a holiday too. But he can’t. Want to know why Mr Morrison? Because he is a retained firefighter for FRNSW and also a volunteer with RFS. He can’t have leave right now. He can’t even enjoy a meal with visiting family as he gets called away,’ she wrote.
Lisa was shocked to see the support for her comments on the Facebook post- which thousands of people have responded to since it was published on Wednesday.
She said she didn’t’ expect the Prime Minister to join crews on the front line, but was disappointed by his decision to leave the country in a time of crisis.
18-year-old Sam Evans (pictured) is one of the thousands of New South Wales rural fire service volunteers unlikely to have Christmas this year because of the great need to battle bushfires across the state
‘I don’t expect him to come and fight the fires, but I think that it’s important for people to see the leaders of the country being there and being empathetic with people and being understanding and giving them information so they know what to do’, she told the Daily Mail Australia.
‘In times of crisis we need to have our leaders showing their faces, being there so people can see’, she said.
The issue raises the question of the role of leaders in the time of natural disasters and crisis.
On Christmas morning 1974, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was overseas when Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, killing 71 people.
Despite his immediate absence he flew back to Australia to visit the disaster-zone, where he was praised for his commitment to the Australian people.
He was later criticised for ‘visiting the ruins of ancient Greece more than those in Darwin’, according to researcher Dr Rosemary Williamson.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he would be returning to Australia this morning, after the death of two fire-fighters in New South Wales overnight.
In a statement this morning Prime Minister Morrison said he ‘deeply regrets any offence caused’ for taking his leave over this period of time.