The NSW Rural Fire Service has denied a volunteer firefighter famous for turning the air blue in a spray against Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been sacked.
Nelligen firefighter Paul Parker went viral after an expletive-laden rant at the PM at the height of the NSW bushfire crisis.
His spray came on January 4, at the end of many long hours fighting fires across his NSW riverside town.
“Are you from the media? Tell the Prime Minister to go and get f–ked from Nelligen. We really enjoy doing this shit, f–khead,” he told a 7 News camera team.
But Mr Parker – who appeared on The Project with his wife Tanya on Sunday night – has spoken out about the aftermath to his moment in the media spotlight.
“The message I got was about time you brought the truck back because we were about to send the police to go look for you,” he said.
“And then there were further comments with gestures and arm movements saying that I’m finished. It’s all over.
“Another captain from another brigade within Batemans Bay came out and I asked him the question, I said: ‘What’s going on?’ He said: ‘You’re finished because of your allegations and foul language against the PM of the country while representing the RFS’.
“Didn’t know you could get sacked from a volunteer organisation but apparently you can.”
However, in a post on social media on Monday, the RFS denied Mr Parker had been sacked.
“We can confirm Paul remains a member of the NSW RFS and has not been dismissed,” it said.
The NSW RFS is aware of reports concerning the status of volunteer member Paul Parker from the Nelligen area.
We can confirm Paul remains a member of the NSW RFS and has not been dismissed. #NSWRFS
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) February 16, 2020
Asked about the issue on Monday, Mr Morrison said he was pleased Mr Parker had not been sacked.
“There should never be any question about whether he should have been fired or not – of course, he shouldn’t,” he said.
“I understand Paul was feeling incredibly exhausted, and incredibly drained by those events and he was working his tail off defending his community.”
Mr Parker became a household name after his epic rant at Mr Morrison went viral.
He’s also reportedly been reaping the rewards of public support, courtesy of a never-ending tab at his local hotel.
“Pretty much every day someone comes in and puts their money down, telling us to buy a few beers for that bloke who got stuck into the Prime Minister,” the licensee of the local Steampacket Hotel, Joel Alvey, told The Sydney Morning Herald last week.
Mr Parker’s new-found status was even raised in federal parliament last week – with Labor MP Jason Clare describing it as “the ultimate pub test”.
Even people from outside Nelligen have called the hotel, wanting to add to the tab. A GoFundMe page has also raised further money for the cause.
“I suppose about $500 has turned up, and it keeps coming,” Mr Alvey said.
Nor was he shocked at the reaction to Mr Parker’s heated words.
“He only said what the rest of us were thinking,” he said.