Celeste labelled ‘attention-grabber’

Tania Burstin, the founder and managing director of MyCause.com.au, called Barber “attention-grabbing” on national television on Monday morning, hours after the comedian hosted 75,000 people at Sunday’s Fire Fight Australia concert and helped raise a further $9.5 million dollars.

In an interview with Today, Ms Burstin began by acknowledging Barber’s incredible achievements.

“I think it’s terrific and her fundraising has been incredible and ground breaking,” she said.

“She’s done an amazing job, but she said that the funds were going to places that unfortunately the funds are not going to.”

Barber told donors that the funds would be dispersed to a number of charities, including those which work with wildlife.

But her lawyers are currently in discussions with the NSW Rural Fire Service which was the sole recipient of the funds, despite Barber’s request that others get their share.

Ms Burstin said Barber’s efforts to change the course of the funds after they’ve been donated was wrong.

“I think that her words, trying to now bring in the legal fight and try to move where the funds are going is attention grabbing because the funds can’t be moved,” she said.

“The funds have been donated to RFS. That is where people understood the funds were going to but, unfortunately, she misled people by saying the funds were going to wildlife charities or to Victoria.”

She said Barber is “amazing” and her efforts — as well as the generosity of Australians who donated — was “absolutely brilliant to see”.

Tania Burstin from MyCause was critical of Celeste Barber’s fundraising approach despite acknowledging the ‘groundbreaking’ amount of funds raised.Source:Channel 9

But Today host Karl Stefanovic pushed her about her criticism.

“If people are listening around the country right now, they would say what is this woman, that’s you, whining about this morning? Celeste Barber has gone above and beyond to raise money for the RFS. There is obviously devil in the detail that needs to be sorted but overall why are you so upset, given how much money has been she’s raised and how much good she’s done?”

Ms Burstin said: “There is no devil in the detail, there is no confusion.”

“What is your beef,” Karl fired back.

“I don’t have a beef,” Ms Burstin said. “I am just concerned that people are misled, that their funds are going to go to fire ravaged communities and to wildlife, which unfortunately they’re not.”

Comedian Celeste Barber addresses the crowd during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images

Comedian Celeste Barber addresses the crowd during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

None of the $51.2 million has been spent due to RFS rules that state donations directed to the trustee of the service must be spent on firefighting equipment and training, not on families or charities.

Barber’s online appeal last month attracted more than one million donations from across the world as catastrophic bushfires devastated parts of NSW and the country.

NSW RFS spokesman James Morris says the service wants to distribute the money in line with Barber’s wishes but it isn’t confident it could be done because of legal reasons.

“We have our lawyers working with Celeste’s lawyers to find a way this can be done,” he told AAP on Sunday.

“Everyone is being amicable about it and we are working together to hopefully come to a solution.” The NSW RFS trust exists solely for the purpose of supporting the volunteer- based fire and emergency service to assist with the cost of purchasing and maintaining firefighting equipment and providing training to volunteers, he added.

Barber made the most of her platform at Sunday’s concert by taking a swipe at Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Our volunteers across this entire country, they are the ones who saved us,” Barber told the crowd.

“As Aussies, we band together because we have to look after each other — because it turns out people at the top don’t,” she said.

“God knows people in power haven’t really done much. It is the people making the change and specifically it’s our volunteers.

“Thank you. I’m sorry you had to do it all on your own, we love you.”

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