Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's frequent lying to Australian voters is reprehensible but deliberately misleading Parliament is beyond the pale. However, when he knowingly mislead the House last Monday there were no repercussions



Not once but twice in the space of of less than two minutes Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison knowingly mislead the Australian Parliament.


This was not acknowledged by The Speaker Tony Smith (in the chair on his final day as Speaker in the House of Representatives) when Morrison did not correct his lie when given the opportunity at 15:11 (2:11pm). 


However, in what appears to have been an agreement between the prime minister and himself The Speaker was careful to vacate his chair to a Liberal Member of the Speaker's Panel and leave the Chamber before 16:00 when Morrison again rose to his feet - this time in a near empty House - stating "I wish to add to an answer"


The Speaker was wise to do so. Because what Morrison said was not a full and frank admission of an untruth, but rather a version of 'what I really meant to say to Parliament in Question today'. [See NOTES 1.] 


Mainstream media quickly noticed the "lie"........ 



Political Editor Katharine Murphy, writing in The Guardian, 22 November 2021: 


I could open with pro-forma generosity, noting politicians are humans, and they, like the rest of us, sometimes forget things, and have rushes of blood to the head. 


 But honestly, we are well past that. 


We are facing the unnerving proposition that Australia’s 30th prime minister struggles to differentiate fact from fiction. What happened on Monday was deeply disconcerting, and all the more troubling because this conduct is an established pattern of behaviour. 


Labor came into question time with a simple objective: to pin Scott Morrison as a liar. We have entered the final two parliamentary sitting weeks of 2021, the federal election is now only a few months away, and Labor has a narrow window of opportunity to try to first define, then rapid set Morrison’s negative characteristics with Australian voters..... 


Questions front-loaded with Morrison’s own conflicting statements came at him thick and fast from the opening of Monday’s session, and unfortunately for the prime minister, there’s an extensive back catalogue to draw on. 


One of the questions related to the events of December 2019. Morrison was asked about his decision to leave Australia during the catastrophic bushfires and holiday with his family in Hawaii. 


The Labor backbencher, Fiona Phillips, bowled her scripted bouncer: “When my electorate was burning, the prime minister’s office told journalists he was not on holiday in Hawaii. Why did the prime minister’s office say that when it wasn’t true?” 


Morrison answered the charge of institutional deception by declaring he had texted Albanese on the plane when he took off for the infamous overseas holiday “and told him where I was going and he was fully aware of where I was travelling with my family”. 


There was a significant problem with Morrison’s self-exoneration. 


It was completely untrue. 


Albanese corrected Morrison and the Hansard record very shortly after. He told the House of Representatives Morrison had texted him at 9.44pm on December 15 2019 to impart the news he was going on leave. 


“He did not tell me where he was going,” the Labor leader said. “He said he was going with his family. I kept that text message confidential, as you do, with private text messages between private phones.”.....


 So why lie? 


And why lie on an issue that even the most disengaged voter in the country would actually remember? 


After Albanese corrected the record, a visibly irritated Morrison then corrected his own untruth while blaming the Labor leader for provoking him. The prime minister acknowledged he had told the opposition leader he was going on holiday (“and that was the important thing”) but he hadn’t told him where he was going. [At that point Morrison did not acknowledge that he hadn't told told Albanese where he was going. See NOTES 2. below] “Mr Speaker [Albanese] chose to politicise that and has done so ever since.” 


An hour or so later, Morrison had another go at trying to clean up. “I wanted to confirm what the leader of the opposition said that in that text I did not tell him the destination of where I was going on leave with my family.” 


“I simply communicated to him that I was taking leave. When I was referring to ‘he knew where I was going and was fully aware I was travelling with my family’ what I meant was that we were going on leave together,” Morrison said.  


“I know I did not tell him where we were going because that is a private matter where members take leave and I know I did not tell him the destination, nor would I, nor would he expect me to have told him where [I] was going. I simply told him that I was taking leave with my family and he was aware of that at that time”. 


Perhaps Morrison is working on a supposition that voters don’t care about politicians lying because they assume all politicians lie. Perhaps he really is that cynical...... 


Read the full article here.


NOTES

House of Representatives, Hansard, 22 November 2012, excerpts:

1. Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister) (16:00): I wish to add to an answer. I want to confirm what the Leader of the Opposition said—that, in that text, I did not tell him the destination of where I was going on leave with my family; I simply communicated to him that I was taking leave. When I referred to him knowing where I was going and being fully aware I was travelling with my family, what I meant was that we were going on leave together. I know I didn't tell him where we were going, because where members take leave is a private matter. I know I didn't tell him the destination, nor would I, and nor would he expect me to have told him where I was going. I simply told him that I was taking leave with my family, and he was aware of that at that time.


2. Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (15:11): I wish to give a personal explanation.

The SPEAKER: Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented? 

Mr ALBANESE: I do. 

The SPEAKER: You may proceed. 

Mr ALBANESE: In question time today, the Prime Minister said: … I texted him from the plane when I was going on that leave and told him where I was going … Mr Speaker, that is not true. On 15 December 2019 at 9.44 pm, the Prime Minister did text me saying he was going on leave. He did not tell me where he was going. He said he was going with his family. I kept that text message confidential, as you do with private text messages between private phones. 

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition needs to show where he has been misrepresented. 

Mr ALBANESE: On the Friday, he disclosed in an interview with 2GB that he had texted me, and that was the first time that that became public. But at no stage did he tell me where he was going. 

Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister) (15:12): on indulgence—Where I was going was on leave. That was the importance of the text message sent to the Leader of the Opposition. He knew I was taking leave. I told him I was taking leave. He chose to politicise that and has done so ever since.