January 26 marks Australia Day, the official national day marking the arrival of the British fleet at Port Jackson in 1778. The country has been engulfed in a bushfire crisis in recent weeks. The Royal Family twitter account which updates followers on the Queen and other royals wrote: “Wishing you all a happy Australia Day!
“This Australia Day, we commend the incredible residence and strength and the Australian people.”
This was accompanied an emoji of the Australian flag.
The account wrote: “Wishing all our Australian followers a happy Australia Day!”
This was also joined by an Australian flag emoji.
It continued: “This year we pay tribute to the incredible strength and resilience of all the Australian people and communities who have been affected by the devastating bushfires.”
The current bushfire season began in June 2019 and according to reports has burnt an estimated 72,000 square miles of land.
Around six thousand buildings have been destroyed.
Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of the Rural Fire Service said: “Our thoughts are not just with family and loved ones, but for anyone who feels impacted by what has unfolded this afternoon.”
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “We can’t thank enough people who continue, notwithstanding the conditions, to put their safety at risk to protect lives and property of others.”
She confirmed flags in the state would fly half on Friday.
Former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has criticised his successor Scott Morrison, also of the Liberal Party, for his handling of the crisis.
Mr Turnbull told the BBC: “Everybody knew we were in a very dry time and as a consequence the fire season was likely to be very bad.
“So rather than doing what a leader should do and preparing people for that, he downplayed it – and then of course chose to go away on holiday in Hawaii at the peak of the crisis.
“I can’t explain any of that. It’s not consistent with the way in which a Prime Minister would and should act.”
Mr Morrison tweeted: “Despite the many challenges we face, especially the terrible bushfires, the drought & the floods, today is when we can reflect upon & celebrate our great nation.
“Today we can all come together as one & give thanks for being Australian. Happy Australia Day!”