Comedian Celeste Barber took aim at Prime Minister Scott Morrison while hosting the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief on Sunday night.
At the star-studded charity gig, Barber paid tribute to the volunteer fire fighters, telling them she was sorry they “had to do it all on your own”. She compared their efforts to Morrison’s inappropriately timed Hawaiian holiday over the Christmas break.
“You will never know how grateful we are,” she said, to cheers from the 70,000 strong crowd. “Our volunteers across this entire country, they are the ones who saved us.”
“They are the ones who cancel holidays to stay here and look after us, and I will speak now very confidently on behalf of a nation when I say to those volunteers: Thank you.”
The entire stadium erupted into a loud standing ovation for many of the volunteers who were given tickets to the benefit concert.
Barber then took direct aim at the Morrison government, criticising their handling of the bushfire crisis.
“As Aussies, we band together because we have to look after each other, because it turns out, people at the top don’t,” she said. “God knows people in power haven’t really done much…It is the people making change and specifically it’s our volunteers.”
Barber took to the stage wearing one of Scott Marsh’s “Merry Crisis” t-shirts, with an image of Scott Morrison on holiday in Hawaii on it.
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Barber’s online appeal for bushfire victims, which raised $52 million, made headlines all over the world and attracted significant donations from both inside and outside of Australia.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, at present, none of the money raised by the appeal has been spent due to RFS policy that states donations must be spent on firefighting equipment and training.
RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said the goal was to distribute money in line with Barber’s wishes, but RFS policy makes it difficult to do so.
“No one is being bad about this, it’s all very amicable, and we will try and see her wishes through,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.
“But as it stands, the RFS is the beneficiary and we can’t donate money people gave us to other charities.”
It is reported that Barber’s lawyers and the NSW Rural Fire Service are in discussions, trying to figure out an appropriate way to unlock the money raised and distribute it to those most affected by the bush fires.
Back in January, Barber posted on Instagram that the “money is getting moving”.
“I have had some pretty long and pretty boring conversations with fancy people at PayPal, Facebook and the RFS,” she said. “And I can tell you now, your money is getting moving. We are moving it, people. And Facebook and PayPal aren’t taking any of it.”