Politics

PM Scott Morrison accused of weaponising complaint as News Corp reponds to ‘untrue’ Sky News claim

Scott Morrison has been accused of weaponising a confidential harassment complaint to shield himself from scrutiny.

The prime minister called a press conference on Tuesday to express his disgust at the “rubbish and crap” endured by women in politics.

Watch the PM’s comments in the video above

Mr Morrison claimed he was horrified by stories that had emerged over the past month and declared attitudes towards women must change.

He choked back tears while talking about the women in his life, emotionally promising: “I will not let you down.”

But the prime minister’s empathy turned to unbridled rage when Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell asked whether he had lost control of his ministerial staff.

Mr Morrison responded by airing details of an internal harassment complaint he claims occurred at News Corp.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Credit: AAP

He warned the senior journalist to “be careful”.

“Right now, you would be aware in your own organisation, there is a person who has had a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet,” Mr Morrison said.

“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.”

News Corp chairman Michael Miller later issued a stinging response, saying the prime minister’s claims were simply untrue.

News Corp chairman Michael Miller.
News Corp chairman Michael Miller. Credit: AAP

“No complaint has been received and News Corp and Sky News are not dealing with a complaint,” Mr Miller said.

“This is simply untrue and it undermines the principle that people must be able to raise issues safely and in confidence.”

The full statement released by News Corp.
The full statement released by News Corp. Credit: Supplied

Labor seized on Mr Morrison’s extraordinary comments during Question Time.

Opposition frontbencher Tanya Plibersek accused Mr Morrison of using a confidential complaint to deflect questions about himself.

“Is it any wonder victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment in this building and around Australia are afraid of coming forward when the prime minister of this country uses a confidential complaint in a nationally televised media conference as a way to try to stop journalists asking questions about these important issues?”

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek speaks during debate in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek speaks during debate in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Credit: AAP

Mr Morrison said that was not what he was doing and insisted he had referenced the complaint in “an anonymised way”.

“I was simply making the point that the problems that we are experiencing in this country are not confined simply to the offices of member and senators and ministers in this place,” he said.

“They go well beyond that.”

During the press conference, the prime minister was pressed on how he knew nothing about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins inside a ministerial office for more than two years, yet somehow knew of a private complaint in a media company.

“That was brought to my attention late last night, and the issue of Brittany Higgins was only brought to my attention on February 15,” Mr Morrison said.

“The suggestion was made by a member of the press gallery that things like this don’t happen in the media, and I think that would be unfair.”

He was also asked whether he raised the alleged incident in the media against the wishes of the complainant, but provided no direct response.

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