Zoey Salucci McDermott, who did not want to shake Scott Morrison’s hand at Cobargo,  says he turned his back on her after she told him her home was razed.
Zoey Salucci McDermott, who did not want to shake Scott Morrison’s hand at Cobargo, says he turned his back on her after she told him her home was razed.

’I lost everything and the PM turned his back on me’

The woman who had her hand forcibly shaken by Scott Morrison said the PM turned his back on her after her home was burnt to the ground.

Zoey Salucci McDermott reposted the video of Mr Morrison on her Facebook stating he ignored her when she had nothing left.

"I have lost everything I own," the Cobargo resident said.

"My house is burnt to the ground and the Prime Minister turned his back on me."

Zoey Salucci McDermott did not want to shake PM Scott Morrison’s hand after losing her home. Picture: 9 News
Zoey Salucci McDermott did not want to shake PM Scott Morrison’s hand after losing her home. Picture: 9 News

The mother of a young daughter, Uma, was lauded online for her refusal to shake the PM's hand.

"I can't believe he f**king walked away from you!" Joelene April-Maree Fawbert wrote.

"Oh my goodness this is so sad Zoey, and the fact you refused to shake his hand so he took yours and shook it for you, heartbreaking," Lulu O'Brien said.

Mr Morrison says he "understands" why bushfire victims are angry and that he's "not taking the abuse personally" despite being called "an idiot".

Cobargo local Zoey Salucci McDermott took to Facebook to explain why she didn’t want to shake the PM’s hand.
Cobargo local Zoey Salucci McDermott took to Facebook to explain why she didn’t want to shake the PM’s hand.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said locals in his fire-ravaged electorate of Bega gave Mr Morrison the unwelcomed reception he deserved.

The PM was heckled in the streets of Cobargo on Thursday, the town where father and son Robert and Patrick Salway died in a bushfire earlier this week.

One resident yelled that Mr Morrison was an "idiot" who wouldn't be getting any votes around there.

Mr Constance was scathing in his assessment of the prime minister's response to bushfires blazing across Australia, with NSW declaring a state of emergency.

"I haven't had a call from him so to be honest with you the locals probably gave him the welcome he deserved," the Liberal MP told Seven News.

"I'd say this to the prime minister today: the nation wants you to open up the cheque books.

"I know this is tough and I know I'm on his side of politics. But the only two people who are providing leadership at this stage are (NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner) Shane Fitzsimmons and (NSW premier) Gladys Berejiklian."

Mr Morrison said it not his job to take the criticism personally, but provide support wherever possible, and said he has since reached out to Mr Constance.

The prime minister said he understands the criticism being directed his way because people are "hurting".

"I don't take it personally, I just see it as a sense of frustration and hurt and loss and anger at what is the ferocity of these natural disasters," Mr Morrison said in Bairnsdale, eastern Victoria, on Friday.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance was not impressed with the PM’s response to the bushfires in NSW. Picture: John Grainger
Transport Minister Andrew Constance was not impressed with the PM’s response to the bushfires in NSW. Picture: John Grainger

"I understand that and we'll seek to provide that comfort and support in whatever way we can. People have suffered great loss. They are feeling very raw.

"Andrew, like so many in that part of NSW, he's been defending his own property, he's deeply part of that community.

"People are angry, if they want to direct that at me, that is up to them. It is not something that will distract me, it is something I will empathise with.

"It's my job to stay focused on ensuring that we have the maximum coordination of effort across many states."

Mr Constance's neighbours at Malua Bay lost their homes and the NSW MP called on Mr Morrison to immediately provide money for victims to buy supplies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits the donations centre in Lucknow on the outskirts of Bairnsdale in Victoria. Picture: Aaron Francis
Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits the donations centre in Lucknow on the outskirts of Bairnsdale in Victoria. Picture: Aaron Francis

"We've lost a lot of homes. A lot of businesses. I know people who have lost both," he said.

Federal Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud on Thursday announced disaster relief payments would be extended to bushfires survivors in the Bega Valley.

Payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child can be claimed through the Department of Human Services.

On Friday Mr Littleproud said up to $18.1 million in new disaster-recovery assistance would be extended to the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Queanbeyan- Palerang, Shoalhaven, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and Mid-Western council areas. The joint funding with the NSW government would give farmers and small businesses recovery grants of up to $15,000.

"Getting back to business is one of the best ways to recover," Mr Littleproud said.

Mr Morrison, who has received a warmer reception visiting fire-ravaged parts of East Gippsland in Victoria on Friday, indicated he's likely to cancel a visit to India planned for mid-January because of the bushfires.


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