Turnbull accused the prime minister of failing to show leadership and misleading the country by downplaying the influence of global warming.
“Everybody knew we were in a very dry time and as a consequence the fire season was likely to be very bad,” he told the BBC.
“Rather than doing what a leader should do… [Mr Morrison] downplayed it, and at times discounted the influence of climate change, which is just nonsense from a scientific point of view. So that’s misleading people.
“Then of course [he] chose to go away on holiday in Hawaii at the peak of the crisis. So I can’t explain any of that.
“It’s just not consistent with the way in which a prime minister would or should act in a national crisis like this.”
Turnbull said he had known Morrison for many years and simply could not explain his actions.
“I can’t explain why he didn’t meet the former fire commissioners who wanted to see him in March last year to talk about the gravity of the threat,” he said.
Turnbull demanded the Australian government do more on cutting carbon emissions.
“If a country like Australia is not prepared to grapple with this issue seriously then why would other countries take the issue as seriously as they should?”
He also attacked US president Donald Trump and other climate change sceptics.
“Trump is playing a very destructive role in terms of climate action,” Turnbull said.
“To be a climate change denier is a badge of honour on the right wing of politics here and the United States, and it’s mad.”
Earlier this week, the prime minister scolded NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean for suggesting some senior federal government ministers want greater emission reduction targets.
Now, the Liberal Party in Victoria is calling on the federal government to set long term emissions targets.
“I would like to see a discussion about what federal targets we can have beyond 2030,” Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien told the ABC.
“But until we get to that point, I think it’s appropriate for states such as Victoria to show that we’re going to do that homework, we’ll do that thinking, and it’s appropriate for us to have our own longer term plans and strategies in the absence of an agreed national position.”
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