Last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison once again put his foot in it, finally addressing the issues raised about Parliament’s workplace culture.
From assuring the country that he is listening to women to making up a sexual harassment investigation on live TV, a lot happened in Scott Morrison’s thirty-three minute presser.
Here’s a wrap up of all the highlights (and the lowlights) pulled directly from the press conference transcript.
#1. Jenny makes a triumphant return Scott Morrison
The PM reminded firstly us that he is an ally to women as he has many in his family. “Criticise me if you like for speaking about my daughters, but they are the centre of my life. My wife is the centre of my life. My mother, my widowed mother, is the centre of my life,” he said, fighting back tears. You have to feel a little bit sorry for Jenny at this point.
does scott morrison realise hes making his wife look like a numpty?
and he says she means to world to him?
what kind of husband and father treats his wife and daughters like a human shield?
— Occupy Centrelink (@OccupyMyGov) March 23, 2021
BREAKING: Scott Morrison to appear on Sunrise at 8:45 to perform acoustic cover of John Mayer’s ‘Daughters’
— illy bocean (@IllyBocean) March 23, 2021
#2. The empathy counselling has finally kicked in
Mr Morrison went on to explain that he is well aware of the plight of women. “I have heard that women are overlooked, talked over by men, whether it is in boardrooms, in meeting rooms, in staff rooms, in media conferences, in cabinets, or anywhere else.” Remind you of anything?
— Olivia Leeming (@olivialeeming) November 10, 2020
— Mathew Wood (@wood300) March 23, 2021
#3. Scotty the feminist Scott Morrison
During question time, when asked by a reporter why it took the PM a month to hold this press conference and whether this speech should have been said at the March 4 Women rally last week, Mr Morrison replied: “No, I believe that I provided the opportunity to meet with those who’d come on that day. It is not my habit, as you know, to go out to rallies and things like that, that come to Parliament House.” Actual footage of everyone looking for Scott Morrison and Senator Marise Payne (Minister for Women) at the rally:
“I have met with numerous groups. On that very day, I was meeting with groups from the entertainment sector who are happy to meet with me and talk about their issues.” Hopefully for the PM, that meeting went better than this one.
Aussie musician Tim Minchin has lashed out Scott Morrison saying the “credit doesn’t go to” the PM for Australia’s COVID-19 response.https://t.co/4vjerCD63S
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) April 11, 2020
#4. ScoMo’s out for blood Scott Morrison
Then, things went from bad to worse. The PM quickly switched from teary-eyed to battle mode, biting back at a journalist with an unsubstantiated claim of harassment in the News Corp workplace. How good’s using sexual assault as a political weapon?
“Right now, you’d be aware that in your own organisation that there is a person who has had a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet. And that matter is being pursued by your own HR department… So let’s not, all of us who sit in glass houses here, start getting into that,” he said, almost smirking at the reporter.
How did Scott Morrison turn an actually ok start on this speech into an absolute disaster?
Did he really just accuse journalists of “sitting in glass houses” and warn them to “be careful”?
Did he just say he has no responsibility, because stuff happens in other organisations?
— Angela Priestley (@angelapriestley) March 22, 2021
Following his tense exchange w/ @aclennell, I asked Scott Morrison to explain how he knows about an anonymous press gallery HR complaint but was never told by anyone in his own office or @lindareynoldswa‘ about a rape on her ministerial couch. Watch his response… @australian pic.twitter.com/nCR36buo9f
— Olivia Caisley (@livcaisley) March 23, 2021
Later in the evening, Scott Morrison made an apology to News Corp for the false statement. “In the course of today’s media conference when responding to further questions I deeply regret my insensitive response to a question from a News Ltd journalist by making an anonymous reference to an incident at News Ltd that has been rejected by the company,” he said. “I accept their account. I was wrong to raise it, the emotion of the moment is no excuse.”
Things are bad when you issue an 11pm apology, apologising for your earlier apology. https://t.co/WLyJVHhOlS
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) March 23, 2021
Scott Morrison apologises to NewsCorp (on Facebook) quicker than he investigates the Higgins case. The Murdochs are a higher priority than thirteen million Australian women. #auspol
— Paul Meek (@PaulMeekPerth) March 23, 2021
‘Scott Morrison apologises to victim of incident that he accepts didn’t happen’
— Julia Goolia (@Hotham_water) March 23, 2021
#5. Accountability? We don’t know her… Scott Morrison
Another highlight was Mr Morrison’s response to the now-infamous incident where an unnamed Liberal staffer wanked over a female colleague’s desk: “As far as I’m aware, the incident that was reported last night occurred long before I was Prime Minister of this place…So that is not something that I could be directly held accountable, even when I wasn’t in the role. What I am held accountable [for] is what I do nowadays what I am outlining to you today.”
#6. Get the MAFS experts in, ’cause someone’s arguing over semantics again
The question time ended with a frustrating back and forth with a reporter about the pausing of Brittany Higgins’ inquiry.
Reporter: “Do you concede that you misled parliament by omission when you said you hadn’t received an update when in fact you had more than receive an update, you had received an email through the PMO, he had spoken to you personally about the fact that he was putting his inquiry on ice,”
Mr Morrison: “I said that I hadn’t been updated on when I would receive the report, and I hadn’t been updated on when I would receive the report, and I said subsequently that.”
Reporter: “You had been.”
Mr Morrison: “No, I hadn’t. There was no finishing date provided to me by the secretary, because he couldn’t provide me with one.”
#7. A king
Commenting on the press conference in a segment of Laura Tingle’s takedown of the PM, Liberal MP Russell Broadbent had this to say.
Liberal MP Russell Broadbent speaking for Australia pic.twitter.com/dVI8M7qoUj
— Max Uechtritz (@plesbilongmi) March 23, 2021
“Normal? Normal?” he said.
watching Laura Tingle on 7.30 absolutely take Scott Morrison apart over his press conference today
(don’t stop Laura) pic.twitter.com/CjKrRFioQc
— Josephine Tovey (@Jo_Tovey) March 23, 2021