An irate flood survivor has confronted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese about being abroad when floods swept through central New South Wales.
Mr Albanese faced angry locals as he toured Eugowra with the media on Tuesday, where hundreds were evacuated last week after a flash flood swept through, destroying homes and gutting shops.
The water rose so quickly that 159 people – one in three residents – had to be rescued by helicopter or boat.
The flood survivor accused Mr Albanese of hypocrisy for attacking Scott Morrison for ‘not holding a snake’ – but when he was abroad during a natural disaster.
‘During the election one of your slogans was'[Scott Morrison] wasn’t here to hold a snake.
‘Where have you been sir? Where were you last week? Abroad I hear. But your people need you here,’ he said.
Mr Albanese responded to the angry man, saying he had represented Australia abroad at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
‘I came here right away. I’m here as fast as I could, and I was in touch with (NSW Premier) Dom Perrottet,” Mr Albanese said.
“We’ve had the deputy prime minister here, who’s acting prime minister, now you’ve had the emergency services minister, and the ADF was here the first day.”
An irate flood survivor has confronted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for being abroad as floods swept through central New South Wales
Mr. Albanese’s reply seemed to calm the man who said, “I’m not trying, we need the same amount of help and support right now.”
Mr. Albanese attended the summit for several days, met with his peers from world leaders, mended relations and progressed trade deals, and returned on Sunday.
His latest trip abroad comes as he comes under scrutiny for the amount of time he has spent outside Australia since being elected in May.
The Prime Minister flew to Japan’s Quad meeting just one day after winning the federal election on May 21, a necessary and important meeting that Albanese had no control over after former Prime Minister Scott Morrison set the date of the federal election.
In early June, the Prime Minister went to Indonesia to meet with President Joko Widodo.
Mr. Albanese has also traveled to Spain for the NATO summit, France to meet President Emmanuel Macron and restore relations between the two countries, Ukraine to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky during the war with Russia, and the United Arab Emirates to Australian soldiers stationed in the NATO summit. country.
His frequent overseas travels have led critics to dub him “Airbus Albo,” with his trips abroad as NSW faces a fourth flood crisis compared to Scott Morrison’s overseas vacation at the height of the 2019 bushfires.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been dubbed ‘Airbus Albo’ by critics, furious about his travels since the election
Since May, the Prime Minister has visited Japan, Spain, France, Ukraine, Indonesia, the UAE and Thailand
During Mr Albanese’s visit to flood-ravaged Eugowra, grants of up to $50,000 were announced for affected businesses and non-profits, which will be jointly funded by the state and Commonwealth.
Mr. Albanese noted the courage and resilience of the local population and thanked volunteers and aid workers who showed up to help others.
“This is about working together,” he said.
In addition, 46 local government areas will receive $1 million to assist with recovery efforts and primary producer subsidies have been increased to $75,000.
Individuals and families are also eligible for a one-time payment of $1,000 for each adult and an additional $400 for each child.
“We are offering the people all possible support at this time,” Mr Albanese said.
Fiona Simson, president of the National Farmers Federation, welcomed the aid but stressed that there is still a serious problem with devastated roads in the regions.
“We’re talking billions of dollars in damages in NSW alone,” Ms Simson said.
“It’s critical that people who can harvest their crops do so and it’s critical that they can get those products from their farm to the silos or to the processing facilities.”
All levels of government should work together to reconnect key trade routes before the summer harvest, including deploying ADF personnel to get the job done.
“Whether it’s necessary to call in the military…we say do whatever it takes,” Mrs. Samson said.
An SES spokesperson told AAP that the ADF had not been assigned so far to help rebuild roads in the Central West.
However, Sam Farraway, Minister for Regional Roads, said 200 Transport for NSW contractors and employees would be deployed there and in the Riverina to reconnect the road network.
“Early estimates from municipalities indicate that 10,000 kilometers of roads are affected, which will take many months to recover,” he said.
Albanese said all levels of government were working together to provide as much help as possible.
He later addressed communities affected by “repeated, relentless flooding” in parliament.
“All of Australia feels for you,” he said.
“We realize you are taking it very, very hard and we will stand by you through these difficult times.”
A flood-damaged house in the town of Eugowra after floods devastated streets on Tuesday
An ambulance pushed off the road and destroyed by flooding in Eugowra (pictured Tuesday)
Mr Perrottet said he would work with the Prime Minister and Prime Ministers to develop national legislation to ensure reconstruction takes place in a way that does not further endanger lives and property.
“Almost every community in NSW is currently at risk of flooding,” he said.
“We can’t undo the past in many cases, but we can’t make those mistakes in the future.”
The State Emergency Service continues preparations along the Lachlan River at Euabalong and the Edward River at Deniliquin, with sandbag assistance, supplies and evacuation.
The immediate response also targets Forbes, Condobolin, Euabalong, Eugowra, Walgett and Bourke in the northwest, and Hay, Albury, Echuca, Mildura, Wentworth, Deniliquin and Moulamein in the south.
The latter is isolated and the 500 inhabitants were urged on Tuesday afternoon to evacuate under supervision, otherwise they would be stranded for weeks.
Major flooding continues at Condobolin and Euabalong, where the Lachlan could peak at eight meters by Thursday – higher than the 1952 floods.
One of many vehicles swept away in the flash flood in Eugowra this week (pictured on Tuesday)