But Nerida was unimpressed with Morrison well before the bushfire crisis. The failures of the past month or two have deepened her dislike. Yet her vehement criticism is just one end of the spectrum of views about the Prime Minister and his performance.
The fury at Morrison is certainly real among ordinary voters who do not like their politicians at the best of times. Unprompted, they recall the moments early last month when the Prime Minister fumbled his response to the bushfire emergency.
Focus groups are not quantitative opinion polls but, in this case, the views expressed in Sydney and Melbourne are in line with the latest polling.
An Essential Research poll released on January 14 found Morrison’s approval rating had fallen to 40 per cent compared with 48 per cent last July. The number of voters who disapproved of him jumped to 52 per cent compared with only 34 per cent last July.
Those who are dissatisfied with Morrison jumped to 59 per cent in a Newspoll three weeks ago compared with 39 per cent last September.
The verdict in some quarters, not least social media, is that Morrison is terminal.
Yet the focus groups show that some voters believe he can recover because a leader’s failures may be forgotten with the passage of time.
“This is an episode that has occurred here and he can come out well at the other end,” said George, who lives on Sydney’s lower north shore and has voted Liberal in the past.
Others in the focus groups were also willing to give Morrison the benefit of the doubt. There was no outpouring of support for Labor and its leader, Anthony Albanese, from those who had voted Liberal at the last election.
The media, too, came in for its share of criticism. Some believed the press did not treat Morrison fairly. Even those who were unhappy with the Prime Minister did not put much store in the media’s coverage of the bushfires.
What stood out was that those who did not like Morrison at the last election like him even less today. Those who backed him at the election know he has stumbled, but they are yet to desert him.
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.