Anthony Albanese has slammed Scott Morrison for telling “a lie” to Parliament over the pair’s private text messages over his ill-fated trip to Hawaii.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese has slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for telling “a lie” to Parliament over the pair’s private text messages over his ill-fated trip to Hawaii.
Accusing the Prime Minister of being a man “who has a problem with telling the truth”, Mr Albanese said today he was gobsmacked when Mr Morrison falsely claimed that he told him exactly where he was going in a 2019 private text message.
Mr Albanese said he knew immediately that was not the truth and didn’t even need to check the messages to confirm it.
“Yes, because it was a lie. I didn’t know where he was,’’ he told ABC Breakfast.
The text message mess follows an international furore after Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaked his own text messages with French President Emmanuel Macron after he publicly accused him of being a liar.
Mr Morrison’s outburst in Parliament on Monday followed a question in Parliament over why his office had tried to hide where he was going and fib to journalists when they asked if he was in Hawaii.
“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?” asked Labor MP Fiona Phillips.
In an angry response, Mr Morrison said he “can only speak to what I have said”. But he then added the startling claim that he told Mr Albanese where he was going.
“As the Leader of the Opposition will know, because I texted him from the plane when I was going on that leave, and told him where I was going and he was fully aware of where I was travelling with my family,” he said.
Mr Albanese then rose shortly after Question Time to claim he had been misrepresented.
“The Prime Minister said that, to quote him, ‘I texted him from the plane when I was going on that leave and told him where I was going’,” he said.
“Mr Speaker that is not true. On the 15th of December 2019, at 9:44pm, the Prime Minister did text me saying he was going on leave,” Mr Albanese said.
“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. And on Friday, he disclosed in an interview with 2GB that he had texted me and that was the first time that became public.
“But at no stage did he tell me where he was going.”
Later in the afternoon, Mr Morrison rose again to clarify his initial remarks.
“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,” said the Prime Minister.
“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.
“I know I didn’t tell him where we were going, because that is a private matter, where members take leave. And I know I didn’t tell him the destination, nor would I.”
Mr Albanese said the original claim that Mr Morrison was forced to clarify was completely false.
“I gave a personal explanation and said it wasn’t true,” he told ABC Breakfast.
“He stood up and backed it in again. He waited until I had left the chamber and the Speaker had left the chamber and then added to an answer an hour after Question Time. This Prime Minister has a problem with just telling the truth, and it is a real problem for the nation,” he said.
Asked if the Prime Minister had misled Parliament, a serious matter for a Prime Minister, the Labor leader said he absolutely had.
“Absolutely he misled Parliament, quite clearly he misled Parliament,” Mr Albanese said.
“There is no question that he did, and not only that, he doubled down after I gave a personal explanation pointing that out.”
Ever since he returned from that ill-fated trip, Mr Albanese said the Prime Minister had been trying to imply the Labor leader was somehow complicit in the secret because he had respected his confidence when he told him he was going on a family holiday.
“The Prime Minister sent me a text message on the Sunday night,’’ Mr Albanese said. “Over the subsequent days, there was a question mark over whether the Prime Minister was on leave, over who the Acting Prime Minister was, whether Michael McCormack was acting or not, and the media were chasing clear answers. I kept that text message, which was a private message from his phone to my phone, private, because that’s what you do, whether it’s between Australian political leaders, or whether – or if it was a message from a foreign leader.
“The truth is that I kept that information that he had given me of a private nature.”
When the Prime Minister returned from Hawaii furious about the criticism of the trip he immediately tried to point out that he told Mr Albanese he was taking a break.
“He chose to go onto 2GB radio live from Hawaii and say that he texted me,’’ Mr Albanese said.
“That was a matter for him. I confirmed that that was the case, but I didn’t release the text message. I, of course, knew that he was on leave, but I didn’t know that he was in Hawaii.”