PM’s embarrassing email blunder mocked
Someone at the Prime Minister's Office is likely to be in hot water this morning after accidentally leaking a list of sensitive talking points for government members directly to the media.
The document was sent to everyone on the PMO's media mailing list and contains a rundown of media appearances for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Deputy PM and other senior ministers.
But embarrassingly, it also contains a list of talking points for Coalition politicians, along with helpful tips on how to dodge any hard questions that might be asked.
One of those suggestions is to use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse for delays in implementing a government promise.
Here's a breakdown of some of the key points in the document.
COMMONWEALTH INTEGRITY COMMISSION
There has been growing pressure for the government to act on its promise to set up a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) in a bid to push back against corruption and subject politicians to greater scrutiny.
The renewed push to establish a CIC comes after it was revealed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a "close personal relationship" with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire following a cross-examination before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
If asked about the CIC, the leaked PMO document directs the Prime Minister and other government officials to use the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason the government hadn't fulfilled it's two-year-old promise yet
"The Government remains committed to establishing the Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) and will progress to the next steps with the release of draft legislation as soon as possible after the more immediate priorities concerning the management of the COVID recovery have been dealt with," one of the talking points laid out in the document reads.
My favourite talking point is if asked about the Commonwealth Integrity Commission say the government supports the idea but hide behind the COVID crisis as the reason they haven’t got it up and running yet. Stay classy San Diego....— Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP) October 14, 2020
Government talking points on a federal ICAC. Lols at the ‘if asked’ pic.twitter.com/aZuJh1YXea— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) October 14, 2020
Another point urges officials to say draft legislation for the CIC was ready to be released right before the pandemic hit.
Government backbencher Gerard Rennick recently blasted the idea of establishing a CIC, telling Sky News "we don't support a national integrity commission".
"I don't want unelected bureaucrats to have the right to tap my telephone in the same way they've tapped Gladys Berejiklian's," he said.
If asked about Senator Rennick's comments, the document directs officials to point out that he has since clarified his comments by saying: "I don't support integrity commission models that repeat the many notable failures of the NSW ICAC. The Government policy aims to address many of these problems and I will look closely at the legislation once it is released."
Never waste a good Pandemic: Appears a recent PMO’s idiot sheet instructs Lib & National MP’s to blame being too busy dealing with the Pandemic as the excuse for failing to implement a Federal ICAC. The truth is a large number of Coalition MP’s just won’t accept a ICAC. Why?— Steve Gibbons (@SteveGibbonsXMP) October 14, 2020
The document lists a series of positive talking points about the recent Federal Budget, including job creation, economic recovery, economic support during the COVID-19 crisis and investing and skills and training of Australians.
The document also includes jabs at the Labor government, with one talking point focused on claiming the opposition will "always seek to spend more" and "will always seek to tax more".
The "If Asked" section of the Budget talking points includes responses for questions about the Budget not doing enough for women, support for older workers and JobKeeper support.
On the questions about women, the officials are directed to say "every measure in the Budget is a measure not just for Australian women, but for all Australians."
Officials should also point out that 57 per cent of women who lost their jobs due to the pandemic have returned to work and that the $240 million Women's Economic Security Statement is "supporting initiatives to close the pay gap".
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On support for older workers, the document states the government is offering a $10,000 wage subsidy that encourages businesses to employ mature aged job seekers.
If asked about Job Seeker support, officials are told to point out that more than 90 per cent of JobSeeker recipients are receiving some other government benefit.
"No one is saying it's easy to get by without a job which is why the Morrison Government is absolutely focused on helping unemployed Australians be work ready and creating jobs so working age Australians have the opportunity to gain financial independence," one talking point reads.
"As the Treasurer has said, 'Both the Prime Minister and I have been very clear that we're leaning in to ensure continued support for people on JobSeeker'."
The bottom of the Federal Budget section of the document includes a few more criticisms of Labor that officials can use if asked about the current Budget debt, including:
• Labor wrote the rule book for what NOT to do - we are not repeating their mistakes.
• What happened during the GFC is it was not targeted, proportional or temporary - they baked in spending for a decade.
The leaked document outlines the Morrison Government's stance on Victoria's current lockdown, with one talking point saying it is "vital" for restrictions to be eased to residents can get back to their normal lives.
The document advises officials to compare Victoria to NSW, stating they have similar case levels but very different restrictions due to NSW's "world class contact tracing facility".
"As many epidemiologists have encouraged, we would support Victoria in reviewing the trigger of five and zero cases with regards to the third and last steps," another talking point reads.
"As it stands this lockdown is already longer than that faced by residents in many cities around the world. We remain deeply concerned about the mental health impacts of a prolonged lockdown on Melbourne residents."
BUDGET REPLY - AGED CARE
Another section of the document was dedicated to tearing down Labor's response to the Budget, with officials instructed to say Labor is "missing in action" when it comes to support for the aged care sector.
"Last night's Budget Response offered little more than rhetoric - no commitment to fund home care, no support for staff and nothing for quality and safety," the document reads.
"Labor's only strength is its ability to deliver spin while the Morrison Government continues to make the quality care of senior Australians a priority."
Officials are then instructed to point out the "record funding" the Morrison Government has provided to the aged care sector, with a focus on the $1.6 billion "COVID-19 specific support in aged care".
Originally published as PM's embarrassing email blunder mocked