Anthony Albanese claims he’s caught the Prime Minister in another lie after Scott Morrison denied using the term “Shanghai Sam” in parliament.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese claims he’s caught the Prime Minister in another lie after Scott Morrison denied using the term “Shanghai Sam” in parliament.
The sledge was used in relation to former Labor senator Sam Dastyari when he was forced to quit parliament in the midst of a Chinese donations scandal.
Mr Morrison previously denied using the term, before admitting he did, before forgetting again today in parliament.
As Mr Morrison faced a fresh barrage of claims that he had a history of being loose with the truth over his secret holiday in Hawaii and other issues, he was asked about his previous denials about using the term Shanghai Sam.
“Given the Prime Minister did use that phrase 17 times on 11 occasions, why did he claim he had never used the term when that simply wasn’t true?’’ Labor’s Stephen Jones asked him.
In response, the Prime Minister replied: “I’m not aware of the claim you are referring to and I won’t take it at face value.”
“I’m not aware of the claim the member’s making. I’m not about to accept claims at face value from those opposite. The Labor Party thinks sledging, whining and whinging is a policy.
That’s not how you actually run a government. They have no alternative plans, no alternative policies,” he said.
“They come here every day and they engage in personal attacks, that’s OK. Bring it on. You want to engage in personal sledging, where I go for holidays, and if I go home and spend Father’s Day with my family.
“On the former senator Sam Dastyari, the Labor senator, I remember those issues very well because … the former senator Sam Dastyari had to leave this place in disgrace.”
Two years ago. the Prime Minister was forced to clarify his use of the label “Shanghai Sam” to describe Mr Dastyari.
Mr Morrison was asked why it was racist and inappropriate to ask questions about a Victorian Liberal MP, Gladys Liu, but his past usage of the phrase “Shanghai Sam” was not.
“Prime Minister why was it racist to question Gladys Liu’s connections to China but it wasn’t racist to call Sam Dastyari ‘Shanghai Sam’?” a reporter asked.
“I didn’t use either of those phrases,” Mr Morrison responded.
Evidence quickly emerged that Mr Morrison repeatedly used the phrase in the past.
“Under Bill Shorten, Labor is the choice of the same old self interested politics – vested interests, special deals, protecting the big unions and their big deals with big business that work against workers, machine politics, Shanghai Sam, John Setka and the CFMEU,” he told the Liberal Party’s 2017 Federal Council in Sydney.
He also tweeted the phrase in 2016 stating “Shanghai Sam” had to go.
Confronted with the evidence, Mr Morrison changed tack on Sydney radio.
“Of course I remember saying Shanghai Sam,” he told 2GB radio.
He then said he didn’t use the term racist.
“I was referring to the word racist that I heard twice in the question and I’ve got to say my focus was on the bushfires,” Mr Morrison said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Albanese slammed Mr Morrison for telling “a lie” to parliament over the pair’s private text messages regarding his ill-fated trip to Hawaii as bushfires raged across Australia.
Accusing the Prime Minister of being a man “who has a problem with telling the truth”, Mr Albanese said he was gobsmacked when Mr Morrison falsely claimed in parliament that he told him exactly where he was going.
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 News Breakfast.
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 why it had fibbed 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.
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 confidences when he told him he was going on a family holiday.
But he said the suggestion he ever told him where he was going was “a lie”.
“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, and the extraordinary thing is that he then went into the parliament and said, ‘Of course I didn’t tell him I was in Hawaii where I had gone. Why would I? That was a private matter.’”
Mr Albanese said the latest account, with Mr Morrison telling parliament he told the Labor leader where he was going, was “a lie”.
“I gave a personal explanation and said it wasn’t true. He stood up and backed it in again – he doubled down and said what he was referring to, and then had to go into parliament – 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 after we had all given speeches about the retiring Speaker Tony Smith. 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.”
Mr Albanese rose shortly after Question Time yesterday 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.”