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Morrison marked down over bushfire crisis

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Scott Morrison is preparing to meet business leaders to discuss the bushfires as voters mark the prime minister down for his handling of the crisis.

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The latest Essential poll shows only 32 per cent of people approve of Morrison’s handling of the fires.

Voters are much more impressed with the performance of state premiers.

Overall, the prime minister’s disapproval rating has risen nine points from 43 per cent in December to 52 per cent.

Respondents to the Essential poll were increasingly likely to consider Morrison arrogant and out of touch.

The prime minister will sit down with business and industry groups in Canberra on Tuesday.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash will also take part in the meeting.

“These businesses are viable, but vulnerable and we need to do everything we can to get them back on their feet,” Cash told AAP.

“The impact and devastation in areas of these bushfires have been unprecedented.”

The meeting will address property loss, supply chains, staffing and customer levels.

Meanwhile, the United States has downgraded its travel warnings for Australia, removing advice to postpone trips.

American visitors to the ACT, south eastern Victoria and the Central Tablelands in NSW are still encouraged to exercise increased caution.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the revision was a good first step but he wants the US warnings dropped back to their lowest levels.

“We want to make it clear that Australia is still very much open for business,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“Most Australian regions remain unaffected and continue to offer tourists the incredible tourism experiences that our country is known for.”

Labor wants small business bushfire relief to focus on low interest loans, grants and insurance claims.

“It’s really important that we are listening to the experiences and the concerns of small business so that government can do everything in its power to remove red tape to allow small businesses to be able to get through this crisis right now,” deputy opposition leader Richard Marles said.

The meeting comes as Westpac estimates the bushfire crisis will cost the Australian economy $5 billion and cut up to 0.5 per cent off economic growth.

The government has already announced a series of disaster relief payments and grants available for businesses, farms and local councils.

-AAP

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