How Scott Morrison dealt with a controversial anti-vax politician has created an outburst of anger in Parliament. Here’s why.
The Prime Minister has been blasted for palming off rogue MP George Christensen to another leader, causing screams of outrage from the opposition in the Senate.
Mr Christensen has rebelled against his own party in recent months to openly pursue his crusade against the Covid-19 vaccine and public health restrictions.
Labor has been highly critical of Scott Morrison for his lack of control over Mr Christensen’s controversial and violent comments, calling on the PM to pull the rogue Coalition member into line.
The conflict reached a fever pitch on Thursday as Finance Minister Simon Birmingham – who represents Mr Morrison in the Senate – revealed the PM had made Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce deal with the situation instead of addressing it himself.
“Yesterday the Minister told the Senate that Mr Morrison had counselled Mr Christiansen about his online activities, which have incited violence,” Labor Senator Tim Ayres said.
“Senator Birmingham then had to correct the record to admit that Mr. Morrison had in fact done nothing and it was Mr Joyce.
“Why has Mr Morrison not spoken to Mr Christiansen directly?”
Senator Birmingham replied stating that as Mr Joyce was the head of the Nationals party, it made sense that he was the one to confront Nationals MP Mr Christian instead of the Prime Minister.
Labor’s side of the Senate then erupted into roars of anger as the opposition Senators hurled insults at Senator Birmingham for his response.
“That’s pathetic,” Labor Senator Katy Gallagher yelled.
“So much for leadership,” Senator Ayres said.
The dramatic scenes come as Mr Morrison is facing increasing criticism for his rhetoric surrounding Australia’s vocal minority of anti-vaxxers.
Last Thursday, Mr Morrison lashed Queensland’s plan to ban unvaccinated people from venues once 80 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, insisting this was unnecessary.
“People should be able to go to a cafe and get a cup of coffee in Brisbane when they’re over 80 per cent regardless of whether you’ve had the vaccine or not,” he said.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles hit back, accusing the Prime Minister of trying to garner the support of anti-vaxxers to bolster his chances of re-election.
“He is so desperate to claw together a coalition of anti-vaxxers for his own political benefit that he is undermining confidence in our vaccine,” Mr Miles said.
“We want people in Brisbane to get a coffee too, we just don’t want them to get Covid while they’re doing it.”
Read related topics:Scott Morrison