Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce has responded to criticism after suggesting two people who died in NSW bushfires “most likely” voted for the Greens.
Mr Joyce made the provocative comment while blaming the minor party for increasing the threat of bushfires.
“Everyone is pretty emotional at the moment, but Barnaby’s comments are just salt in the wounds,” Northern Rivers local Aaron Hargreaves told Fairfax.
“I don’t know what the hell Barnaby is going on about what people vote for at a time like this.”
Mr Hargreaves said locals were fuming at Joyce.
“They said things you probably don’t want to print … they’re pissed, they’re proper pissed,” he said.
“We’re pretty cranky with Barnaby right now, I must say.”
He later clarified the remarks after drawing immediate backlash.
“No matter which party an individual votes for, they do not deserve the tragedy that fell upon the Wytaliba bushfire victims,” Mr Joyce said in a statement on Tuesday night.
“Any suggestion that I said otherwise is a deliberate misinterpretation. Tragedies such as this transcend party politics.”
George Nole and Vivian Chaplain were both killed when a bushfire tore through their northern NSW town last Friday.
Scott Morrison has urged all politicians to stop bickering over policies while bushfires continue to burn.
The prime minister said provocative comments made on all sides of the debate were ultimately meaningless to people losing their homes.
There are dozens of bushfires burning across NSW and Queensland, with more than 150 houses destroyed.
Mr Morrison said there would be time later to debate controversial issues, but stressed he was focused on assisting those on the ground.
The prime minister said people didn’t need to hear politicians shouting at each other.
“I think it’s important that at moments like this, everybody take it down a few notches,” Mr Morrison said on Tuesday evening.
“What matters is people who are in need and ensuring the operational support is there for the services they need to ensure that we can address this crisis.”
– With AAP