In terms of a public relations exercise, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's New Year's Day meeting with the Australian cricket team has turned into an unmitigated disaster.
With several states across the country battling deadly bushfires that have devastated communities and livelihoods, the PM's spruiking of the SCG Test match between Australia and New Zealand has not gone down well.
'ABSOLUTE LEGEND': Nick Kyrgios' brilliant gesture for bushfire victims
As is tradition, the PM hosted the two sides taking part in the New Year's Test at Kirribilli house on Wednesday.
Mr Morrison acknowledged the match - which begins on Friday - is being played under particularly challenging circumstances as fire-fighters battle blazes around the country.
“Whether they’re started by lightning storms or whatever the cause may be, our firefighters and all of those have come behind them to support them, whether they’re volunteering on the front line or behind the scenes in a great volunteer effort, it is something that will happen against the backdrop of this Test match,” the Prime Minister said.
“But at the same time Australians will be gathered whether it’s at the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) or around television sets all around the country and they’ll be inspired by the great feats of our cricketers from both sides of the Tasman and I think they’ll be encouraged by the spirit shown by Australians and the way that people have gone about remembering the terrible things that other Australians are dealing with at the moment.”
The comments have been roundly condemned on social media, with users accusing the Prime Minister of being insensitive towards those Aussie families who have lost so much during the bushfire crisis.
Many questioned why Mr Morrison was even continuing the New Year's cricket tradition when his priorities should be elsewhere.
I couldn’t care less about cricket.— knifey (((cypher))) (@jahan_tyson) January 1, 2020
Scott Morrison’s trivial and tone deaf commentary spits in the face of the families of the dead and communities that have been devastated.
Mind boggling, jaw droppingly inappropriate...
...appalling lack of judgment.#AusPol#AustraliaBurns
Seriously?!— Liam Flanagan (@ljflannas) January 1, 2020
Who is advising this bloke that while the country burns it would be a good look for him to take a photo with blokes who play a GAME!!!
YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS RIGHT NOW. #bushfiresAustralia #SydneyTest pic.twitter.com/xEWX6tsa2g
According to Morrison, at the cricket, the fires are happening against the backdrop of the cricket.— 💧Teresa Randal (@RandaltsRandal) January 1, 2020
This was part of his prepared remarks, not an off the cuff mis-speak.
Peak lack of empathy has been achieved.#auspol
I nearly broke my TV when he said that. And my husband's ears.— Mrs Cee (@christinalcee) January 1, 2020
Peak stupidity, obtuseness, selfishness and stupidity. #NotMyPM— 💧 Mara Roberts (@strebormt) January 1, 2020
And Scott Morrison only caring about stupid cricket, that's totally disgusting 🙄— Trevor Ashman (@kiwi4you) January 2, 2020
According to Scott Morrison, they can now watch the cricket and be happy.— George Manka (@GeorgeManka) January 2, 2020
Morrison is more like a cheer leader for the cricket than a PM that should be leading Aus through an ‘unprecedented” crisis. #NotFitForPM— 💧sandyj (@bsadams25) January 2, 2020
Here’s the transcript from Scott Morrison’s speech yesterday to the Australian & New Zealand cricket teams at Kirribilli House 👇🏻https://t.co/S4HQMNx5wq#BushfireEmergency #ClimateCrisis pic.twitter.com/bNHKOCsWE8— Reezy Miller (@Trixie_Boo) January 2, 2020
The anger towards the Prime Minister comes as Cricket Australia has confirmed money raised during Australia's one-day series against New Zealand will go towards raising funds for bushfire victims.
Cricket matches to raise money for bushfire appeal
CA confirmed on Thursday that money raised from the two matches at the SCG would go to the Red Cross.
Signed playing gear from the Boxing Day Test will also be auctioned off for victims of the fires, which have engulfed NSW throughout the summer.
This week's pink Test at the SCG will still go ahead as planned, with a minute's applause to be observed before play to honour firefighters and emergency services.
The McGrath Foundation will also remain as the chief charity partner for the Test, as has been the case since 2009 as it raises money for breast cancer nurses.
Smoke from the fires threatens to have play stopped if it becomes too unhealthy or threatens vision, with a Big Bash match called off in Canberra in December.
Sydney remained hazy on Thursday, with the smoke expected to be at its worst on day two on Saturday.
Several Sydney grade matches have already been affected this summer, with paramedics called twice to at least one match for two non-asthmatic players.