Scott Morrison’s wife Jenny joined him on a tour of flood-affected western Sydney on Saturday as criticisms over the government’s handling of the treatment of women continue.
Jenny was alongside the Prime Minister as he visited the Claremont Meadows State Emergency Service, and she met emergency workers and flood affected residents who were evacuated during last week’s deluge.
But Mrs Morrison retreated to a car during the PM’s press conference, which was dominated by questions about the behaviour of Queensland MP Andrew Laming, who apologised to two women last week for trolling them online.
Mr Morrison praised SES crews whose efforts “shone through” over the past week.
“This is what our agencies trained for, so that in moments of great crisis, they can act,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“We have the most professional well trained volunteers and professional people working in these organisations and their skills have just shone through over the course of this past week.
“Their leadership, their management, their organisation, just getting the job done here when people needed the most.
“It might be blue skies here today in western Sydney, but the job is still going on the ground.”
The Prime Minister announced an extension of a $5 million loans scheme for flood-affected businesses up to $250 million in turnover, with no payments required for two years for the 10-year loan.
“I spoke to the Treasurer yesterday, and we were able to get it done overnight,” Mr Morrison said.
“They will be extended into the flood affected areas as well. That’s been done through the banks and we underwrite 80 per cent of these loans.
“This is about backing the businesses of producers that are backing themselves to get back on their feet.”
A clean-up program funded equally between the federal and NSW governments has been unveiled to help households, businesses, farmers and local councils recover from the devastating floods.
The federal and NSW governments have also agreed to provide recovery grants to small businesses of up to $50,000 and grants to primary producers of up to $75,000 where direct damage has occurred, on a cost shared basis.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the damage to so many communities, especially to those who have barely recovered from the bushfires,” Mr Morrison said.
“As the floodwaters start to recede, the difficulties will continue as people begin cleaning out their homes, business owners count the cost of lost equipment and farmers who have lost their livestock.
“Just as we have stood with people through COVID-19, the bushfires and drought we will stand with those who have been devastated by these floods.”
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the clean-up could take weeks, if not months.
“We appreciate it will be a very challenging time for people as they go back to their homes and their properties,” she said.
“We want the community to know that we will be with them every step of the way as they clean-up and recover from the floods.”