ScoMo’s Trump bromance proves tourism saver
US TRAVEL advisory warnings against visiting Australia have been downgraded after Prime Minister Scott Morrison leveraged his personal relationship with Donald Trump.
While the warnings remain in place, references to fires being "the worst in Australia's recorded history" which could continue until April, as well as direct appeals for tourists to postpone travel, have been dropped.
It comes as senior Ministers were forced to defend Mr Morrison from bushfire backlash, claiming the community's "expectations changed" on how much the Federal Government should be involved in disaster management, as polls revealed a shocking slump in his popularity.
It is understood that Mr Morrison personally made representations to "people very close to Trump" on the travel advice, with his request discussed at "senior levels" within the administration.
A government source said the representations were made using the strength of the relationship that has been built since Mr Morrison became leader.
Mr Morrison was the second world leader invited to a State dinner at the White House by Mr Trump and the first Australian PM to receive an invitation from a US President since John Howard.
"I've been in direct contact at senior levels of the US administration," Mr Morrison said in response to a question from The Courier-Mail.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also written to the US administration urging the advisory be reconsidered.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said it was a good first step, but he would continue to work to have the warnings dropped back to the original levels.
"We want to make it clear that Australia is still very much open for business. Most Australian regions remain unaffected and continue to offer tourists the incredible tourism experiences that our country is known for," he said.
Senator Birmingham said misinformation circling online and in some media exaggerated the geographic reach of the fires.
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison has found himself wedged between a vocal Queensland party room pushing back against increasing emissions reduction targets, and increasing public pressure to take more action on climate change in the wake of the fires.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government was seeking balance in its approach, after the PM for the first time said climate policies would "evolve".
"The extremes of this debate, for some people whatever you do will never be enough, for others, whatever you do will be too much," he said.
Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said Mr Morrison had done "everything he possibly, humanly could", but suggested " community expectations had changed.
Opposition Environment and Water spokeswoman Terri Butler said the government had been forced to change its tune due to "furious public reaction" over its handling of climate change.
"The PM is an adman who is trying to spin his way out of that but it's not going to wash until he commits himself to real action on climate change," she said.