Anthony Albanese fires back at ‘Airbus Albo’ criticism saying he’s been stuck in enforced ‘radio silence’ in Ukraine – as Liberals rip into him for being overseas as floods crisis hits
- Anthony Albanese has been overseas since Sunday on foreign policy trips
- As deadly floods lashed NSW over weekend, many called for him to come home
- Some even compared his trips to Scott Morrison’s holiday to Hawaii in 2019
- But others said this was unfair because he was working for nation not on holiday
- Mr Albanese later revealed he has been briefed on the flooding situation
As he crossed into Poland from Ukraine this morning, the Prime Minister was allowed to switch on his phone and receive briefings from the Emergency Management Minister and the NSW Premier.
He had maintained radio silence as a security measure while in war-torn Ukraine visiting President Zelensky on Sunday.
Anthony Albanese (pictured with President Zelensky in Ukraine) has been briefed on the deadly flooding in NSW after he copped criticism for being in France and Ukraine while the crisis hit
As he crossed into Poland from Ukraine this morning, the Prime Minister was allowed to switch on his phone and receive briefings from the Emergency Management Minister and the NSW Premier
The federal government has provided 200 ADF troops (pictured in north-west Sydney on Monday)
Mr Albanese tweeted: ‘Have crossed into Poland from Ukraine and left radio silence. My first actions were briefings by @murraywatt and @Dom_Perrottet on NSW flooding and ensuring Federal Government assistance is being provided.
‘It’s a constantly changing situation. Check @NSWSES and @BOM_NSW for the latest advice and please stay safe.’
The heavy rain which pounded NSW has killed one man and caused thousands of home evacuations in Greater Sydney. The federal government has provided 200 ADF troops so far.
The prime minister has been away since last Sunday on official trips to a NATO leaders’ summit in Spain, a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and a high-security trip to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Despite all the trips being official business and in the national interest, some Aussies took to social media to say they would have preferred him to be at home as the hashtags ‘Airbus Albo’ and ‘Where’s Albo’ trended on Twitter and others labelled him ‘Anthony Overseasy’.
Since winning the election on May 21, Mr Albanese has travelled more than 45,000km on trips to Japan, Indonesia, the UAE, Spain, France, Poland and Ukraine where, on Sunday, he announced a further $100million in aid for the nation’s defence against Russia.
Anthony Albanese (pictured in Kyiv) has faced criticism for being overseas while NSW suffers deadly floods – but his supporters defended his absence as he visited war-torn Ukraine
Since winning the election on May 21, Mr Albanese has travelled more than 45,000km overseas
A car sits in a flooded street at Camden on the outskirts of Sydney on Monday
Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan said Mr Albanese, who will travel to Fiji for a Pacific Islands forum next week, was too focussed on international issues.
‘Well, it is concerning because what he seems to be doing is focusing completely on the international front and good Prime Ministers can do both,’ he told Sky News.
The Prime Minister’s office said he was being briefed on the NSW floods and will consider a trip to flooded areas after he returns late on Tuesday night.
Angry Australians compared Mr Albanese’s absence during the floods to Scott Morrison’s infamous holiday to Hawaii during the December 2019 bushfires.
Critics dredged up a tweet Mr Albanese made in March saying: ‘If I’m Prime Minister, I won’t go missing when the going gets tough – or pose for photos and then disappear when there’s a job to be done.
‘I’ll show up, I’ll step up – and I’ll work every day to bring our country together.’
Some also criticised the PM’s decision to give more of taxpayers’ money to Ukraine, although the move was supported by politicians across the aisle.
Mr Albanese’s critics said they would have preferred him to be at home as the hashtag ‘Airbus Albo’ trended on Twitter – but not everyone agreed
Anthony Albanese (right) and Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroschnychenko (left) take a selfie as they visit Maidan square in Kyiv on Sunday
But others said the Hawaii comparison was not fair because Mr Albanese was on key foreign policy trips while Mr Morrison had been sipping cocktails by the beach.
At the NATO summit in Spain, Mr Albanese said it was highly beneficial for Australia to be there to discuss China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
The group declared China a ‘security threat’ for the first time.
He then had a successful meeting with President Emmanuel Macron to repair frosty relations after Mr Morrison dumped a $90billion submarine deal with a French company and then leaked private texts between him and Mr Macron.
Mr Albanese was also warmly received on his high-security trip to Ukraine.
He is the first Aussie Prime Minister to visit the country and his important trip showed that the western world – beyond just Europe – is united against Russia’s aggression.
Australia is the largest non-NATO donor to the country’s war effort after Moscow invaded in February.
Others said the Hawaii comparison was not fair because Mr Albanese was on key foreign policy trips while Mr Morrison had been sipping cocktails by the beach
Despite Mr Tehan’s criticism, some Liberals including former PM Tony Abbott and Senator James Paterson praised Mr Albanese for his trip to Ukraine
Former PM Scott Morrison was roasted for going on holiday to Hawaii (pictured) during bushfires
Opposition leader Peter Dutton went on leave on Sunday and will not return to work until July 19.
Heavy rain over the weekend has seen more than 32,000 people across NSW – mostly in Greater Sydney – urged to leave their homes while another 6,000 are on alert on Monday.
One man, a kayaker, died after being pulled from Sydney’s Parramatta River.
Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt has been actively responding to the floods and has sent 200 ADF troops to help out.
Some 30 suburbs are under threat of going underwater while 71 evacuation orders are in place as heavy rain continues to fall with NSW possibly facing the worst flooding in the past 18 months.
Wallacia Caravan Park, areas of Emu Plains, parts of Penrith, parts of Lower Portland, Pitt Town, Agnes Banks and South Maroota were the latest regions to receive orders to evacuate by Monday morning.
One man has died after being pulled from Sydney’s Parramatta River. Pictured: Flooding in Greater Sydney
Anthony Albanese (left) met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) on Sunday
A man is rescued from his car by State Emergency Service workers in Windsor on Monday
There is major flooding at North Richmond, with river levels exceeding that reached in March (15.92 metres), with further rises possible, and major concern of water levels at Sydney Basin, the Hawkesbury Nepean and Georges River.
Camden is among the worst places hit with the town submerged for the fourth time this year while parts of Lansvale, Chipping Norton and Moorebank have also gone under water.
Two ADF night-time helicopters and an additional 100 troops were deployed on Monday to assist during the emergency, totalling 200 defence personnel.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said while he had not yet spoken to the prime minister about the unfolding crisis, the federal and state emergency ministers were coordinating their response.
‘We have worked with the Commonwealth government to get ADF support on the ground immediately, providing essential support, going from door-to-door, providing instructions and advice to those people who are flood-affected,’ he told reporters on Monday.
‘The fact that we have had… the ADF on the ground straightaway is incredibly pleasing and you can certainly see that has improved from the last flooding events we have had earlier in the year.
‘We can always learn from events of the past to make sure we do better in the future.’
Mr Albanese holds a plane while visiting an airport in Kyiv on Sunday