Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to repair strains in his relationship with state authorities after a crucial bushfire announcement caught emergency bosses by surprise.
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NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons welcomed news from Mr Morrison that up to 3000 army reservists would be deployed for bushfire recovery, but said he only found out through media reports.
"I was disappointed and I was frustrated on one of our busiest days," Mr Fitzsimmons said of Saturday's announcement.
"They apologised that in hindsight they could have done better with communicating that."
Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp also confirmed he had received no official notification before the announcement.
Mr Morrison hosed down the issue during a press conference on Sunday morning, complimenting state authorities and conceding there had been a communication breakdown.
"The decisions we took and enacted were a statement about the scale of the crisis - it is in no way a statement on the performance of the state and territory agencies," the prime minister told reporters in Canberra.
"There was a breakdown of communications at the defence liaison level with the headquarters yesterday. We've addressed any issues that have arisen from that."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was told of the prime minister's announcement before it was made.
Later in Nowra, Mr Morrison said he would work to have better communications with Mr Fitzsimmons and Ms Berejiklian.
"We have had that discussion and the communications have been addressed," Mr Morrison told reporters.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said it was up to state leaders to inform the rest of the public service.
"How states then advise their own bureaucrats is an issue for them," Senator Reynolds told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Morrison on Sunday shrugged off questions about his leadership during the national bushfire crisis.
"There has been plenty of criticism but I can't be distracted by that," he said.
"The public, I know, are not distracted by that."
He also defended a much-criticised video posted on the Liberal Party's Twitter account detailing the federal bushfire response. Critics have labelled it "shameless" and a breach of political advertising rules.
"It wasn't a Liberal Party-sponsored ad, it was authorised by me. I'm the leader of the Liberal Party," Mr Morrison told reporters.
Mr Morrison said he would "reject absolutely" any suggestion the video was a political advertisement.
"The postings that we've made have been to inform the community about what the Commonwealth government has been doing."
British broadcaster Piers Morgan said the video was a "self-promotional commercial with cheesy elevator music".
"This is one of the most tone-deaf things I've ever seen a country's leader put out during a crisis. Shameless & shameful," he posted on Twitter.
The Australia Defence Association - a non-partisan public-interest watchdog - accused the government of breaching rules around political advertising.
"Party-political advertising milking ADF support to civil agencies fighting bushfires is a clear breach of the (reciprocal) non-partisanship convention applying to both the ADF & Ministers/MPs," the association tweeted.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was also outraged.
"On a day we have catastrophic fire conditions, in the midst of a genuine national crisis, Morrison, the marketing guy, does what? He releases a Liberal Party ad! He is no longer fit to hold the high office of prime minister," Mr Rudd tweeted.
Mr Morrison has also been criticised for not acting sooner to bolster the nation's firefighting capabilities and for going on holiday to Hawaii during the crisis.
Australian Associated Press
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