Senate debates

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Prime Minister

3:48 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | Hansard source

This afternoon the MPI we're debating is the reported views of members of the New South Wales Liberal Party, including that they see the Prime Minister to be 'the Prime Minister for Morrison and no-one else'—the Prime Minister for himself. What a divided bunch the Liberal Party are! All of us here already knew that. We've all been around this building and seen some of the bickering and side glances, but who would have thought that the Premier of the state of New South Wales, a stalwart in the Liberal Party and in the New South Wales Liberal Party—just like the Prime Minister—would be in open revolt? There is very apparent mutiny in the ranks.

The Sydney Morning Herald on 28 August published a piece entitled 'Even Gladys Berejiklian is fed up with PM, who she privately regards as "evil" and a "bully"'. I must say that when I heard that even I was taken aback. After all, I said just last week that the Prime Minister was the Prime Minister for New South Wales.

But, frankly, not even the Premier of New South Wales wants him as his Prime Minister. It is no surprise to hear someone calling the Prime Minister a bully—it's almost synonymous with his name at this point in terms of the many debates we've had in this place regarding his character—but evil is something quite new. And it's coming from one of the most senior Liberals in Australia, the Premier of Australia's largest state. I find that damning, and I find that very worrying. The nation should be worried that senior Liberals describe the leader of their party and the leader of the government in this way. It's all very well to say, 'Yes, we take it with a pinch of salt,' when the opposition rails against the policies of a government, when we rail against the decisions of a government and when we rail against the incompetence of this government. But, for our Prime Minister's character to be impugned in this way in public debate and on the public record, yes, our country should be worried.

In the last year, we've heard the phrase from all over the country that the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister for Sydney, New South Wales, and nowhere else. He doesn't care about South Australians or Victorians. He called Queenslanders and Western Australians cave people. Now we're told by the Sydney Morning Herald that, among Premier Berejiklian's inner circle, the Prime Minister is considered a joke. It's a joke to consider the Prime Minister the Prime Minister for New South Wales, because New South Wales, in the inner circles, certainly doesn't regard him that way. They regard him as the Prime Minister for Morrison and no-one else.

Let's break down why the Liberal Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, may think that the Liberal Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, is evil. We were told a few weeks ago that the Prime Minister's press office phoned political reporters backgrounding against Premier Berejiklian to try to push the pressure of a failing vaccination rate onto New South Wales, backgrounding against members of his own team. Our Prime Minister has certainly been feeling the heat. He and his government had failed to fulfil one of the two most crucial jobs this year, which is costing Australian lives. That job was vaccination and quarantine. But, like every other time our nation's Prime Minister has been put under pressure and held accountable, he crumbles and tries to shift the blame onto others. It's utterly pathetic. It's a low political tactic employed by those who can't stand behind their decisions and the consequences of their decisions. It is a tactic that our Prime Minister has employed over and over again, to background against people, undermine them and impugn their character. Prime Minister Morrison's attempt to shift blame onto Premier Berejiklian for the failed vaccination rollout could be one reason Premier Berejiklian might have for calling the Prime Minister evil.


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