PM’s awkward moment on trust question
SCOTT Morrison didn't rule out a May 25 election today as he launched his pitch to voters in a major speech, saying he is "pumped as" about the Coalition's future plan for Australia.
But it was the Prime Minister's comments about why voters should trust the Liberal Party when it has dumped two prime ministers in five years that raised eyebrows.
Defending the Coalition's chances at the upcoming May election - despite the latest Newspoll showing the government is heading for defeat - Mr Morrison said: "The Labor Party had quite a few prime ministers, that's true - and they weren't very good. We've had three good ones, I would argue."
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra , the Prime Minister was coy on when the election would be held but wouldn't rule out that it could be pushed back to May 25.
News Corp reported yesterday there was a push within the Coalition to delay the election until after May 18, which would force the Australian Electoral Commission to fast-track the vote count.
MPs are concerned May 11 or May 18 would clash with Anzac Day or Easter.
Mr Morrison argued it was a "great myth" that Labor lost the 2013 election because of its leadership dramas, which saw both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard punted as prime minister.
"What happened in 2013 was that the Labor Party were thrown out because they were a very bad government," Mr Morrison said.
"They had manifestly stuffed it on so many points, it was embarrassing. Now, people can rightly say that we've had three prime ministers - that is true."
"What they cannot say is that we've mismanaged the finances, they cannot say that we've mismanaged the budget or the economy.
"They cannot say that we've mishandled the borders or failed to invest in the defence forces or secure our position in the Pacific and the broader Indo-Pacific region."
Mr Morrison also noted that the party had made a "historical decision" in December 2018 to ensure sitting prime ministers can only be removed in future by a two-thirds party room majority.
Mr Morrison's key pitch to voters today was to establish the Coalition as the party that could keep Australia safe and economically strong.
Cyber-bullying, drugs, domestic violence, defence funding, border protection and law enforcement were all highlighted as key areas the government would continue to focus on.
"I'm asking Australians to vote for us because we've got the plan to take us forward and to keep us going," Mr Morrison said.
"We have a future plan and it's a passionate plan. I can tell you I'm pumped-as on this plan because I know it's going to make Australia stronger, not weaker."
Meanwhile, the government is facing a historic defeat on medical transfers for asylum seekers when parliament resumes for 2019 tomorrow if Labor and crossbenchers vote for the bill in the lower house.
And while Labor is still considering whether to back the bill, with leader Bill Shorten receiving a security briefing on it today, Mr Morrison said the Coalition would not compromise to pass the legislation.
The Home Affairs Minister already had veto power over any medical transfers, he said.
"This bill is unnecessary. It's superfluous. It adds nothing to border protection and therefore, its passage in any form takes us backwards," he said.
He also refused to consider Labor's calls to add more sitting days to parliament's calendar to deal with banking royal commission recommendations before the May election.
Any rush to implement findings could have "unintended consequences".
"You cannot go and put together what is at least 40 pieces of legislation, or thereabouts, scramble it together in a couple of weeks, throw it into a feverish sitting of the Australian Parliament just before the election and then be surprised at the result that you think that you might get on the other side," Mr Morrison said.
"I would call that type of financial legislation reckless."