Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejects calls for more assistance to firefighters

Source: AAP

Sydney has been covered in a thick smoke as fires continue to burn in the surrounding areas.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shut down claims that the federal government could be doing more to assist firefighting efforts.

Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Morrison was questioned about reports that rural fire services had begun crowdfunding resources like food and water. He stood by his government’s actions. 

“I know what the practice is and I know what the experience is and I know what’s happening on the ground,” the Prime Minister said.

“That is what was intended to be set up and that is operating and I’m pleased with the way those arrangements are being worked out and if there is any other matter that would need to be addressed, it would be raised with the Commonwealth.”

Morrison also spoke on the question of professionalising the volunteer firefighting effort. 

“We are constantly looking at ways to better facilitate the volunteer effort, but to professionalise that at that scale is not a matter that has previously been accepted and it’s not currently under consideration by the government,” Morrison said.

He concluded by saying the volunteer firefighting organisations will be analysed “post these events”.

Sydney has been engulfed this morning by a blanket of thick smoke.

Morrison’s decision to use a press conference to introduce a religious discrimination bill - instead of discussing the fires - faced strong backlash online. 

There is currently no location in New South Wales with air quality below hazardous levels.

According to the state’s Air Quality Index, recordings of over 200 are considered ‘hazardous’. Sydney’s morning air coverage has reached 11 times the most hazardous level. 

Locations in Sydney’s north-west currently have recorded an Air Quality Index of 2075, while suburbs in the east have recorded an AQI of 2214.

Social media has been flooded with pictures of iconic Sydney landmarks all but disappearing into the smoke.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service headquarters was also briefly evacuated after heavy smoke coverage triggered safety alarms.

Reports that the Olympic Park office had been evacuated appeared on social media at approximately 11am this morning.

As ABC reports, key personnel stayed inside the building to monitor the multiple fires burning in the NSW surrounds.

The Sydney CBD offices of the Sydney Morning Herald have also been evacuated due to the smoke triggering alarms

Sydney ferry services have also been temporarily halted until the smoke clears.

Even visiting UK rockstar Liam Gallagher has weighed in on the apocalyptic situation.

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