The death of two firefighters is a tragedy: Today Show interview

19 December 2019

SUBJECT: Tragic deaths of firefighters; Prime Minister absent during bushfire emrgency; pizza toppings

ALEX CULLEN, TODAY SHOW: Welcome back. You're watching The Today Show and this is a live shot from Mildura, country Victoria expected to be hottest place in Australia today. What an amazing shot that is, my god, the sun just rising there. And it's gonna be a searing 47, yeah 47 degrees. Ouch. Stay indoors guys, and keep the aircon on, if youve got one. Isnt it amazing? And that is an indication of the heat and fire emergency engulfing the whole country, and the tragic news from that emergency is the death of two volunteer firefighters. They lost their lives while three others were seriously injured after their fire truck rolled over near a blaze southwest of Sydney. Its just tragic news this morning. To discuss this, I'm joined by Northern Territory Senator, Malarndirri McCarthy, hello to you

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTERN TERRITORY: Good morning.

CULLEN: And 6PRs Oliver Peterson in the West. How are you Ollie?

OLIVER PETERSON, 6PR PERTH: Morning Alex.

CULLEN: Now Malarndirri, first to you. The men and women of the fire season, you know many of them volunteers, just extraordinary work these two are doing. This is a sad day isnt it?

MCCARTHY: Absolutely. And can I just say certainly to the families, Alex, and to all those who are working with the fire fighters there that deepest condolences. It is a tragedy and I think that when we look at our firefighters right across the country, volunteering to protect our homes and lives, this is really sad news.

CULLEN: Youre right. Theyre volunteers arent they? And Ollie, you know, we underestimate just how dangerous this is sometimes don't we? I mean, they're doing an amazing job.

PETERSON: They are doing an amazing job and very, very sad for their families in particular because they are saving our lives and telling us to leave our homes to protect ourselves and unfortunately, we lose two firefighters here overnight. It just is a reminder here of just how ferocious these fires are and the conditions expected over the coming days as well, so you listen to those warnings, you take the advice from firefighters and you make sure you leave and I think as well if we can just reach out to our local firefighting brigades today and say thank you to them on behalf of all Australians for the work that they're doing and if there's any support that we can give them, it doesn't have to necessarily be financial, go and bake a cake, take it down to your local firefighting station and just say thank you.

MCCARTHY: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, Ollies right too. We have to thank our firefighters but also what you said at the beginning, Alex that the heatwave and temperatures; I've got friends driving from Alice Springs to Adelaide during the night, because it's going to be 50 degrees around Oodnadatta, and those areas of South Australia. So, our lives are changing quite dramatically.

CULLEN: Its unprecedented. Theres also those three firefighters badly injured so we're thinking of them this morning, but let's move on and one man who's been conspicuous by his absence this week is of course, our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Now let's just go to this picture here. Its just emerged overnight appearing to show the PM pictured in boardies with fellow holidaymakers on the island of Hawaii. We think that's where he is. That's what we're being told anyway. And he's also been the target of fun with special Scomo Hawaiian shirts. There's even a most wanted picture of the PM, which has gone viral. I mean really. And his people are just not telling us where he is, which I think is just a travesty but look, it's not a good look for our Prime Minister is it Oliver? I mean, it is just, I think he should be home. What do you think?

PETERSON: Look, I think hes entitled to a holiday to be honest Alex, but I do think that his office and he needed to just say, I'm going on a holiday for five days. See you then. I think you know the carry on has been a little over the top, in regards to him taking a break. This latest shirt that's been produced, sure, it's a bit funny and some people might go and purchase it for a bit of a laugh but PM deserves to have a holiday, not a good look overnight, there's a photograph of him emerging with people in Hawaii and his office isn't saying anything. Just be up front. Just be honest just say he's taking five days off, Michael McCormick's in charge. The five days is probably up so he's probably going to be back today, but I do agree that the public relations exercise has been no good but he can take a break.

CULLEN: Yeah. Everyone deserves a break I suppose, but cant he go somewhere local. Cant he go to Portsea, Lord Howe Island, Hamilton Island?

MCCARTHY: People will be trying to find him wherever he is now. I think too like Alex when you think about it, it's, it's really a case of how Australians deal with situations. This is a really stressful time for Australians right across the country. And one of the things that we're really good at is using humour, and in some respects, that's our way of trying to deal with issues. I don't know if I'd wear that shirt, but I'd certainly say to the Prime Minister, well look, you know, if we flip it around maybe we can say that we can actually get on in this country without you, you know, and there's other members who might be able to do that too I mean look at the fire chiefs who've been so desperately wanting to meet with him to talk about the fact that the climate concern is so serious, and they're going to go ahead and have this summit without the Prime Minister. Naturally they've invited him, but this is how Australians are dealing with it, they're going: well, if you're not going to do it, we're going have to do it for you.

CULLEN: I think he should be here, I really do. I think we need leadership at a time like this. We've got fires across the country, we've got heat waves across the country. I think he should be here, I really do. But as you say he is deserving of a holiday. You see him in the halls of Parliament all the time.

MCCARTHY: Well I'm on the Senate side, he's on the House of Reps, but I know what you mean. Yeah certainly, we know that people do need holidays. But there is something really serious going on in our country and we do need the leadership and the leadership is lacking right about now

CULLEN: Totally agree. And look, this one is a great one to end on your Friday: the self-proclaimed List King. Hes the man whos ranked everything from chocolates to hot chips and he's at it again. This time he's ranking pizza toppings. Now, only supreme and prosciutto and rocket make it into his God tier, the very top tier with poor old Hawaiian, Mexican and garlic prawn languishing in the dreaded Cat Vomit tier. Ollie, how do you like your pizzas mate, is he right?

PETERSON: No hes not right at all. This is a disgraceful idea, just before Christmas, its another attack on the good old ham and pineapple pizza.

MCCARTHY: Thank you Ollie, thank you. That is my favourite too.

PETERSON: Absolutely. It is the best flavoured pizza and I find this attack on pineapple on pizza just unjustified. And what doesnt make sense, in the Gold tier, he's got supreme. So most supreme pizzas have pineapple on them anyway so if youre try to make a point about pineapple, hes actually said pineapples in the Gold tier, plus he's got a pizza there with lettuce, hes got a pizza with lettuce; rockets lettuce.

MCCARTHY: I'm with you Ollie. Next time we meet, well be having our Hawaiian pizza, let me tell you.

CULLEN: What's your favourite Malarndirri?

MCCARTHY: I have to say Hawaiian pizza, but also meatlovers, like I mean I love the meatlovers. I dont like the prawns. So I do agree with him on that one. Prawns are right down the bottom of the scale, but hey, give me a Hawaiian pizza any day.

CULLEN: Im the same, I love supreme. I think supremes my favourite. Dont like Margherita though. I dont see the point of Margherita. Just have cheese on toast. Its the same thing. We can talk all day about this. Happy Friday guys.

MCCARTHY: And have a great Christmas guys.

CULLEN: Yeah you too Ollie, you too Malarndirri. Have a fantastic break. You deserve it.

TRANSCRIPT TV INTERVIEWTODAY SHOW FRIDAY 20 DECEMBER 2019