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Morrison officially postpones India, Japan visit during national bushfire crisis

“That will be a big focus of my efforts, particularly over the course of this month… and continuing to go out and listen to those on the ground and provide what comfort we can through making the visits,” Mr Morrison said on Saturday.

He said both nations had offered their “sincerest” wishes and “deep sympathies” to the Australian people.

Mr Morrison stressed he would attempt to reschedule the meetings, preferably early this year, when “arrangements can align”.

“There was a lot of work we were looking forward to doing at those meetings, both of those meetings,” Mr Morrison said on Saturday.

“We were at an advanced stage when it came to defence, intelligence and security arrangements with India and Japan and we were looking to progress those as well as broader trade discussions.”

Mr Modi said in a statement he expressed “heartfelt condolences” on behalf of all Indians on the fire’s toll on life and property.

He also offered India’s “unstinted support” to Australia and its people, “who are bravely facing this unprecedented natural calamity” and reiterated India’s commitment to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia.

He said he looked forward to welcoming Mr Morrison in India on a state visit at “a mutually convenient time” later in the year.

The trip came at a difficult time for the Prime Minister, who has been criticised for his government’s response to the fires burning around the country.


He was forced to cut short a holiday to Hawaii just before Christmas following the death of two volunteer firefighters, saying he “deeply” regretted any offence caused by taking leave with his family during the crisis.

Mr Morrison said he had not taken criticism personally and said the issue should not be about him.
“It’s not about those problems. It’s not about any of those issues. It’s about the people who need the support on the ground,” he said.

“And that’s what I’m focused on. My biggest focus at the moment is continuing to roll out the support of the Australian Defence Force.”

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