SUBJECT: Scott Morrison & Angus Taylor misleading Parliament; Medevac.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: The Prime Minister should this morning, at 9:30, come into the Parliament, correct the records in person and apologise for misleading the Parliament yesterday when instead of the quote that he used allegedly from a Victorian detective was actually from a 2GB presenter. An extraordinary error in a pre-prepared answer, word for word extensive quotes used to attack former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It just shows yet again the lack of judgment that’s been on display for all to see from this Prime Minister when placed under pressure. This is a Prime Minister who doesn’t want scrutiny from the media. He doesn’t want the scrutiny from the Parliament. He thinks that he can just bluff his way through everything, shutting down debate, as he has done consistently. And remember where this began. This began with a minister in the third scandal in which he’s been involved in just this year, saying that in a letter to Clover Moore that there had been $15 million of travel, $14 million from her and her fellow councillors on the Sydney City Council with the documentation that we know wasn’t downloaded from the City of Sydney website, even though that is what he said to Parliament. On Monday he repeated that in a letter that he tabled. A deliberately mislead, which is ongoing. This minister has had over 80 days now to actually say, ‘who gave this document?’ How was it formed? How is it that he came to refer to it in the letter to Clover Moore? And yet we’ve seen no explanation, just an attempt to cover up and dismiss. And now we have a Prime Minister ringing the New South Wales Police Commissioner on the very day that the investigation, Strike Force Garrad, was launched. And in circumstances whereby in the media release they said no further comments would be made about the Strike Force, and yet the Prime Minister told Parliament that he discussed the substance of the investigation with the New South Wales Police Commissioner. There’s a big gap between what the New South Wales Police Commissioner is saying happened with that conversation and what the Prime Minister told Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Is it troubling to know that a shock jock is where the PM gets his facts from?
ALBANESE: Well, what’s extraordinary is that the Prime Minister uses a 2GB presenter’s comments purportedly to be from a Victorian detective against former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. What should have occurred here is that Minister Taylor’s position is, quite frankly, untenable in terms of the deliberate mislead of the Parliament. What Westminster requires, and these people are supposed to be conservatives, they’re supposed to respect tradition. The fact is that you mislead Parliament when you are a minister; you end your ministerial career. That’s what should happen here. We now have a police investigation. There are three issues, potential breaches here, two of which are punishable by ten years in prison.
JOURNALIST: Fair to say now that the heat’s been taken a little bit off Angus Taylor and is now being transferred onto the PM. Is this a bit of an own goal for Labor?
ALBANESE: Well, the Prime Minister has put the heat on himself by his own actions in refusing to stand Minister Taylor aside, in refusing to uphold parliamentary standards in himself, intervening to ring someone who he says he has a relationship with. The Police Commissioner seems to downplay that, in terms of the New South Wales Police Commissioner. No one made the Prime Minister make that call. No one made the Prime Minister tell Parliament that they discussed the substance of allegations. People out there who are under police investigation can’t have someone ring up the head of a police organisation, be it any state or federal, and ask about the substance of the investigation. It’s quite simply inappropriate. And it does show Scott Morrison’s judgment. When he’s under pressure, he thinks that since May, he’s untouchable and he’s above everyone else in the country. Well, I’ve got news for him. He’s not. He’s accountable to the Parliament and he’s accountable to the Australian people. And I think people who think about this, these circumstances, think about what the Prime Minister has said in the past and what he has said this week will really question his judgment.
JOURNALIST: Just in relation to Medevac, there are rumours floating around that Jacqui Lambie is making backdoor deals with the Government, saying she wants to revive offshore processing to New Zealand. What’s Labor’s position on that?
ALBANESE: Labor has been saying for a very long time that Australia should have accepted the offer from New Zealand originally made with John Key’s Government and when Prime Minister Gillard began those discussions. Since then, Prime Minister Key made it very clear, as did his two successors, including Prime Minister Ardern. The Government needs to, once again, needs to have an outcome focus here. They’re all interested in the politics and in conflict. They need to be concerned about an outcome. They haven’t been. And it’s not surprising that the crossbenchers would have a look at what the Government’s rhetoric was, about what would happen if Medevac was introduced and what has actually happened.
JOURNALIST: Would that deal make the legislation more palatable for Labor?
ALBANESE: Well, we think that Medevac is working. And we think that the Government, if it wants to resolve the issue, we think that it needs to work out third-party settlement options. There’s one that has very clearly been available for some time, in New Zealand. And that would resolve the issue because no one would need to be transferred to anywhere from Nauru or Manus because there wouldn’t be people on there. Thanks very much.