A dossier of lies and falsehoods

How Scott Morrison manipulates the truth

1
Lie

Morrison: [Asked “do you know how much money he was paid?” in relation to Christian Porter’s statement of interests revealing anonymous payments] “That’s included in his register of interests.”1

The truth: Porter’s statement contains no reference to how much he was paid by anonymous sources.2

 

1 Media conference, September 19, 2021

2 Christian Porter, Register Of Members’ Interests Notification Of Alteration(s) Of Interests, processed September 14, 2021

2
Lie

Morrison: [Asked why the government supported Clive Palmer’s High Court action on Western Australian borders] “The member must be misinformed, because the Commonwealth did not pursue that case, and it is erroneous to suggest that that is what the government did. The government did not pursue that case at all. We did not pursue that case. The Labor Party continues to push this falsehood around the country.”1

The truth: On June 12, 2020, the Australian government solicitor, on behalf of then-attorney-general Christian Porter, filed a Notice of Intervention under s.78A of the Judiciary Act 1903, in the matter of Clive Palmer and Mineralogy v the State of Western Australia and WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson. The Notice states “the attorney-general intervenes in support of the position of the plaintiffs”. Porter stated two days later “the purpose of the Commonwealth intervention is to make constitutional arguments in support of the reopening of the borders”.2

1 Question time, August 30, 2021

2 High Court filings, June 12, 2020

3 Media report, June 14, 2020

3
Falsehood

Morrison: “If the Leader of the Opposition wants to come up with any alternative, he needs to inform himself, and he could start by talking to General Frewen who he has not yet sat down with—not once—since he came into the job. General Frewen is the person who is running the vaccination program for the government, and he hasn’t even bothered to talk to him.”1

The truth: According to Anthony Albanese: “on 23 June 2021 my office received an email from Nigel Blunden on behalf of Lieutenant General Frewen offering a briefing. On 25 June my office responded, accepting the offer of a briefing. On 25 June, also, the director of the vaccination communication team in the Department of Health responded, saying her team would reach out to start pulling it together ‘next week’. I received no further communication between 25 June and 20 July. A communication then offered a briefing during the first sitting week in August. My office responded, agreeing with this. Subsequently, there were attempts to organise a time which was mutually acceptable, where we were all available. At the end of the correspondence from my office to Minister Hunt’s office, which has been very professional during this, is: ‘I am hopeful one of the following times will suit the COVID-19 task force principals. Tomorrow’ — this is as of yesterday — ‘Tuesday 3 August at 11.30 am or 3.30 pm, or Thursday at 4pm,’ and then an email back from the person: ‘Let’s lock in 4pm on Thursday. Invite to follow.'”2

1 Question Time, August 3 2021

2 Personal explanation, Parliament, August 3 2021

4
Lie

Morrison: [When asked why he said the vaccination rollout was “not a race” but then used Olympic metaphors] “When Professor Murphy and I made those remarks, we were talking about the regulation of the vaccines.”1

The truth: Morrison and health secretary Brendan Murphy initially used “it’s not a race” about the vaccine approval process in March 2021. But on March 31, Morrison said, when asked about the pace of the rollout, “it’s not a race, it’s not a competition”.2

1 Interview, July 29, 2021

2 Media conference, March 31, 2021

5
Lie

Morrison: [On the premier of NSW asking other states for more doses of vaccine at a national cabinet meeting] “I mean, that request wasn’t even made at the meeting on Friday.”1

The truth: Gladys Berejiklian said “National cabinet made their view very, very clear to me on Friday. I argued my little heart out but the position of the national cabinet was very clear.”2

1 Interview, July 25, 2021

2 Media conference, July 26, 2021

6
Falsehood

Morrison: “We would also be encouraging the eight-to-12-week second dose to be done at the earlier part of that eight-to-12-week period. That is consistent with medical advice — the TGA approval does sit, and ATAGI advice, on eight to 12 weeks.1

The truth: The advice in relation to AstraZeneca from the TGA and advisory body ATAGI is: “TGA’s regulatory approval allows the second dose to be administered from four to 12 weeks after the first. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has recommended that the interval between first and second dose is 12 weeks. However if this interval is not possible, for example because of imminent travel, cancer chemotherapy, major elective surgery, a minimum interval of 4 weeks between doses can be used.”2

1 Media conference, July 8, 2021

2 Therapeutic Goods Administration media statement, “TGA provisionally approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine”, February 16 2021

7
Falsehood

Morrison: [On suggestions of favouritism in relation to lockdown assistance for Sydney] “I reject that, I think that’s an absurd suggestion. We’re into the third week of a lockdown. We’ve provided exactly the same support that was provided in Victoria.1

The truth: Morrison had announced that in order for NSW people to access lockdown assistance, “the liquid assets test, which is currently applied to that individual payment of $325 and $500 will be waived for access to those payments”. Victorians had been required to comply with a liquid assets test during Victoria’s May-June 2021 lockdown, depriving tens of thousands of Victorians of financial assistance.2

1 Media conference, July 8, 2021

2 Media conference, July 8, 2021

8
Falsehood

Morrison: “At no stage at any time in the last 12 months has there been any suggestion that Australia would have reached a level of vaccination at the level we now see in the UK, which I note is not even yet at 65% for two doses at this time. The national vaccination plan that was adopted last year and all of the targets, even on their most optimistic scenarios, which haven’t been realised, none of them put Australia in a position where a suppression strategy could have been lifted at any time, at least by the end of October. So, the suggestion that somehow there was a vaccination rate that would have put us in a different position right now to what was planned last year is simply not true.”1

The truth: The government’s own, revised vaccine rollout schedule released in March 2021 at a media conference held by Morrison forecast that approximately 20 million Australians would have received at least one vaccine dose, and many fully vaccinated, by early July 2021. The government’s original schedule from February 2021 estimated the entire population would be vaccinated by October, but this was adjusted when vaccine supply problems occurred.2

9
Lie

Morrison: “There are three things that we need to do … there’s a surveillance legislation amendment which is about identifying and disrupting, and the AFP and the ACIC powers to combat serious crime on the dark web, and in circumstances where anonymising technologies making detection and investigation of serious crime increasingly difficult. We have a law in the Parliament at the moment which does not have bipartisan support … The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment International Production Orders Bill. That’s cross border access to electronic data, enhancing the effectiveness of Australian investigations and protection of prosecutions of serious crimes, including serious terrorism offences. That bill is there. That does not have bipartisan support.1

The truth: The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 was before Parliament’s bipartisan Joint Intelligence and Security Committee for consideration when Morrison spoke. It was referred to the committee by Defence Minister Peter Dutton.2 The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 was referred to the Joint Intelligence and Security Committee by Dutton in 2020. In May 2021 the committee unanimously recommended the passage of the bill subject to amendments jointly recommended by Labor and Liberal committee members.3

10
Lie

Morrison: “As a government, we believe in the two-state solution. It seems now in politics here in Australia that is no longer a bipartisan view, and I think that’s disappointing.”1

The truth: On May 13, Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong issued a statement on the Palestine crisis, saying “we remain committed to a just and enduring two-state solution”.2

1 Address, budget lunch, May 14, 2021

2 Violence in Israel, Gaza and Jerusalem, Penny Wong, May 13, 2021

11
Lie

Morrison: [On Taiwan] “We’ve always understood the one system, two countries arrangement and we will continue to follow our policies there … One country, two systems, I should say.” 1

The truth: There is no “one country, two systems arrangement” in relation to Taiwan recognised by Australia; government officials briefed journalists that it was a mistake and the prime minister had meant to refer to Hong Kong, where “one country, two systems” has long been accepted.

However, the prime minister, when asked in a later interview with SBS on May 12 (the transcript of which has not been published by the prime minister’s office) “did you make a mistake in that comment?”, answered “no” and added “what we know is that we have a situation with China in which we’ve recognised how they see these relationships in the region, and particularly in relation to Taiwan and Hong Kong and things of that nature”.

This again misstates Australia’s position, as Australia does not recognise China’s claim to Taiwan, but merely acknowledges that China makes the claim.2, 3

1 Interview with Neil Mitchell, May 6, 2021

2 SBS, May 12, 2021

3 ABC, May 13, 2021

12
Falsehood

Morrison: “Our current target will see Australia — this is for 2030 — reduce our emissions by 70% per unit of GDP on 2005 levels…”1

The truth: The government’s own documents state: “The emissions intensity of the economy (Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) has continued to decline and is projected to fall by 58% from 2005 to 2030.”2, 3

1 Address to the Business Council of Australia, April 19, 2021

2 Australia’s emissions projections 2020, December 2020, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Video

13
Falsehood

Morrison: “I want to stress that at no time yesterday did I make any comment about the actions of the European Union, nor did I indicate any of the background reasons for the lack of supply that we have received from those contracted doses. And so, any suggestion that I, in any way, made any criticism of the European Union yesterday, would be completely incorrect.”1

The truth: Morrison said the previous day about reasons for slow vaccine rollout, “the supply is the major restraint and always has been, whether it’s been the non-delivery of vaccines from overseas, some 3 million that we were relying upon, and we all are aware of the situation in Europe and other places that has frustrated that supply”.2

1 Media conference, April 7, 2021

2 Media conference, April 6, 2021

Video

14
Lie

Morrison: “Right now, you [a Sky News journalist] would 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.”1

The truth: No such complaint of harassment was ever made. As Morrison admitted in a late-night apology the same day, “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. I accept their account. I was wrong to raise it, the emotion of the moment is no excuse”.2

1 Media conference, March 23, 2021

2 Facebook post, March 23, 2021

Video

15
Lie

Morrison: “As I’ve indicated to the House before and I’ll indicate again today, this work [the inquiry into who knew about Brittany Higgins in the prime minister’s office] is being done by the secretary of my department … He has not provided me with a further update about when I might expect that report, but I have no doubt the opposition will be able to ask questions of him in Senate estimates next week, which is the appropriate place where those matters can be raised with the secretary of my department.” 1

The truth: According to Phil Gaetjens, the head of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), he updated Morrison on March 9 that his inquiry was placed on indefinite hold while police investigations were undertaken. Gaetjens refused to answer any questions at estimates.

1 Question time, March 18, 2021

2 Gaetjens’ evidence to Senate estimates, March 22, 2021

Video

16
Lie

Morrison: “I thank the member for his question [about former Liberal ministers travelling overseas during the pandemic] and wonder why he’d want to bring personalities into this, given that Mr Rudd has done the same thing.”1

The truth: Kevin Rudd never left the country during the pandemic. Morrison was forced to apologise to Rudd that day.2

17
Lie

Morrison: There are 40 ships, and I’m told there’s some 90,000 containers out there [delayed by industrial action]. That includes medical supplies. I mean we cannot have the militant end of the union movement effectively engaging in a campaign of extortion against the Australian people in the middle of a COVID-19 recession … You can go down to Port Botany or down to Kurnell and have a look out there and you can see them lining up1

The truth: Seven vessels were either waiting or had just arrived at Port Botany when Morrison made the claim. Three were delayed. The stevedoring company stated no medical supplies were affected by the dispute.2, 3

1 Media conference, September 29, 2020

RMIT Fact Check, October 9, 2020

3 The Sydney Morning Herald, September 30, 2020

Video (starting at 21:38)

18
Falsehood

Morrison: “The agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.”1

The truth: Australia’s vaccination rollout began on February 22, 2021. By that date, according to the Financial Timesglobal tracker, over 200 million vaccinations had already been delivered worldwide. The Australian rollout schedule was subsequently delayed repeatedly due to the government’s inability to source vaccines.2, 3

1 Media release, September 7, 2020

2 Screenshot of the FT tracker for February 22, 2021

3 Media conference, April 6, 2021

19
Falsehood

Morrison: “The authority for making the decisions in relation to that program [sports grants] was the minister for sport. That is the fact, Mr Speaker. It may be inconvenient to the opposition, but that is the fact. The only authority sought from the prime minister’s office and from me was in relation to announcements.”1

The truth: Evidence from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) shows that Morrison’s office dictated the removal and addition of sports grants to the minister for sport’s office for the political benefit of the government. The ANAO stated “on March 26, 2019 the prime minister’s office had advised the minister’s office that it was expected that the minister would write to the prime minister to seek ‘authority’ on the approved projects and inform him of the ‘rollout plan'”.2

1 Question time, May 13, 2020

2 Letter from the auditor-general on April 16, 2020 to the Senate Select Committee on the Administration of Sports Grants

20
Falsehood

Morrison: “The head of the PM&C had access to whatever document he required [when preparing his report into the “sports rorts” scandal].”1

The truth: In his submission to the Senate Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Phil Gaetjens said: “It is important to note that the auditor-general is not required to share audit information with external parties in most cases, nor do I have the power to compel information from individuals. In this case, the auditor-general did not provide any information to me that the ANAO used for its audit.”2

1 Question time, February 26, 2020

2 Submission by Gaetjens to the Senate Select Committee on the Administration of Sports Grants, February 14, 2020

Video (starting at 14:55)

21
Falsehood

Morrison: “I think it’s important to note that the auditor-general did not find there were any ineligible projects that were funded under this scheme, and nor did he say that rules had been broken.”1

The truth: Officials from the ANAO told a Senate inquiry that 43% of projects funded under the program were ineligible when agreements were signed. Morrison had cited the ANAO’s original report, which said “no applications assessed as ineligible were awarded grant funding”. But officials explained this related to Sport Australia’s assessment of ineligibility. Many projects that were ineligible under program guidelines but wrongly assessed as eligible were funded.2

1 National Press Club Q&A, January 29, 2020

2 ANAO evidence to Senate Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants, February 13, 2020

Video (starting at 2:05)

22
Falsehood

Morrison: “Well, I just reject the premise of the question [as to whether the government believed there was nothing wrong with using public funds for its own private political interests]. That’s not why we did it … You can have an editorial on it if you like and you’re welcome to that. But that’s not why I did it. And that’s not why the government did it.”1

The truth: The ANAO’s independent report concluded the $100 million community sport infrastructure fund was targeted towards marginal or Coalition-held seats, with the government using a spreadsheet colour-coded by electorate to determine who should receive funding.2

1 National Press Club Q&A, January 29, 2020

2 ANAO report, January 15, 2020

Video (starting at 3:17)

23
Lie

Morrison: “There is no credible energy transition plan, for an economy like Australia in particular, that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel.”1

The truth: There are many energy transition plans that involve less gas, including the one by the independent Australian Energy Market Operator. On the other hand, there are no transition plans that involve a greater use of gas.2

24
Lie

Morrison: “We will reduce our carbon emissions per capita by half between now and 2030 … our per capita emissions will fall by half over the next 10 years.”1

The truth: The government’s December 2019 emissions forecast (current when Morrison spoke) showed per capita emissions falling from 21 tonnes per person to 17 tonnes per person in 2030 — a fall of 19%, not 50%, over the next 10 years. The government’s December 2020 emissions forecast did not materially alter that forecast.2, 3

25
Lie

Morrison: “Emissions today are 50 million tonnes less on average each year under our government than under the previous government.”1

The truth: The government’s then-current quarterly National Greenhouse Gas Inventory data showed emissions were 537.5 million tonnes in 2012-2013 compared with 532 million tonnes in 2018-19 — 5 million tonnes (not 50 million tonnes) less. In 2020, the data for those years had been revised to 539.1 million tonnes in 2012-13 and 529.5 in 2018-19, or a difference of nearly 10 million tonnes.2, 3

26
Lie

Morrison: “I should stress that there is no dispute in this country about the issue of climate change globally, and its effect on global weather patterns, and that includes how that impacts in Australia … I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does not make this connection. The government I lead has always made that connection and that has never been in dispute.”1

The truth: Several of Morrison’s ministers and backbenchers have disputed the connection between climate change and bushfires. Ministers or then-ministers who have done so include:

David Littleproud, September 11, 2019: “I’m not a scientist. I haven’t made an opinion one way or the other … I don’t think it really matters.”

Peter Dutton, February 5, 2020: “Did the bushfires start in some of these regions because of climate change? No. It started because somebody lit a match.”

Matt Canavan, December 12, 2019: “The fires have not started due to climate change, they’ve started because some silly people have done some stupid things … This attempt to link an event to one cause, is simply clearly, manifestly wrong.”

1 Media conference, January 5, 2020

Video

27
Lie

Morrison: “The video message [which the Liberal Party ran during this summer’s bushfires] simply communicates the government’s policy decisions and the actions the government is undertaking to the public.”1

The truth: The ad was on behalf of the Liberal Party, authorised by the Liberal Party and the host page solicited donations to the Liberal Party.2,3

1 Statement on Twitter, January 4, 2020

2 Liberal Party media release, January 4, 2020

3 news.com.au report, January 5, 2020

28
Lie

Morrison: “Well Zoey [Salucci-McDermott, a bushfire victim in Cobargo] and I did speak, actually, and she did raise the issue of her concerns about the level of support for the local brigade that was there. That was the matter that she raised with me. And I said I’d pass that on to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service … We talked about what she was asking for, which was greater support for the firefighting effort in that part of New South Wales. So we talked about that.1, 2

The truth: The only words Morrison said to Zoey Salucci-McDermott, whom he met for a few seconds on a meet-and-greet with residents in Cobargo during the bushfires, were “I understand, I understand”.

1 Interview with Leila McKinnon, January 3, 2020

2 Media conference, January 3, 2020

Video

29
Falsehood

Morrison: “We took the advice of the fire commissioners. And the fire commissioners’ advice were [sic] the same as that which is being provided. So we’ve acted on that advice.”1

The truth: The National Aerial Firefighting Centre, which is overseen by the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services, asked for significant extra funding in late 2017, which was refused by the government.2

1 Media conference, January 3, 2020

2 The Sydney Morning Herald, January 5, 2020

Video (starts at 20:22)

30
Falsehood

Morrison: “I refer to March 2013 — Ross Mitchell, a detective in Victoria Police’s fraud squad, stated that prime minister Julia Gillard was under investigation over her role in the creation of an AWU slush fund. He said: ‘Let me make this perfectly clear. The prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, is under investigation by police. This is fact.’1

The truth: These comments were in fact made by Sydney radio host Ben Fordham in 2013. Then-attorney-general and leader of the house Christian Porter was forced to provide a letter to the Speaker of the House acknowledging the falsehood hours later.2, 3

1 Question time, November 27, 2019

2 The Australian, April 27, 2013

3 Parliamentary documents, November 27, 2019

Video

31
Falsehood

Morrison: [On whether he had asked the Trump administration to invite Hillsong pastor Brian Houston to a White House state dinner] “It’s gossip.” When pressed as to whether it was true or not, he repeated that it was “gossip” and that he had already answered the question of whether it was true or not.1

The truth: After months of refusing to answer the question and dismissing the story as “gossip”, Morrison told Ben Fordham on 2GB on March 3, 2020 that he had included the Hillsong leader on a list of potential guests that was ultimately decided by the White House. “On that occasion, we put forward a number of names, that included Brian, but not everybody whose names we put forward were invited,” Morrison said.2

1 Media conference, September 21, 2019

2 Interview on 2GB, March 3, 2020

Video

32
Lie

Morrison: [Asked why it wasn’t racist to call Sam Dastyari “Shanghai Sam”] “I didn’t use either of those phrases.”1

The truth: Morrison repeatedly used the phrase “Shanghai Sam” in tweets and interviews. He later explained “I was referring to the word racist that I heard twice in the question and I’ve got to say my focus was on the bushfires”.2

1 Media conference, September 13, 2019

2 2GB radio interview, September 13, 2019

Video

33
Falsehood

Morrison: “[An electric vehicle is] not going to tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot with your family.”1

The truth: Standard electric vehicles then on the market when this statement was made could travel, on average, 300 to 400 kilometres on a single charge. Some models — the Tesla Model X, for example — could reach up to 500 kilometres, with towing capacity.2

BONUS LIE

Morrison: [On electric vehicles] “I didn’t ridicule that technology, that’s good technology.”3

1 2019 election campaign, April 7, 2019

2 RMIT Fact Check, May 17, 2019

3 Media conference, March 31, 2021

Video

34
Lie

Morrison: “The fact that Bill Shorten, as a former financial services minister and an assistant treasurer, doesn’t understand the complexity of these measures … he doesn’t understand how to legislate financial services reform. Now, there’s a good reason — he’s never done it! They didn’t do it when they were in government last time. They had Storm Financial, they had all of those — nothing, zip, zero.”1

The truth: As financial services minister, Bill Shorten negotiated the passage of major financial services regulation changes, including the Future of Financial Advice reforms, through a hung parliament in 2012. After winning the federal election in 2013, the Coalition tried repeatedly to dilute the reforms, aimed at protecting consumers, but were unsuccessful.2

35
Lie

Morrison: “Someone who is a paedophile, a rapist, who has committed murder, any of these other crimes, can just be moved on the say-so of a couple of doctors on Skype.”1

The truth: Under the medivac bill being discussed at that point, the minister could refuse a transfer on security or serious character grounds. A later version of the bill went further, to include ministerial discretion in three areas, including on the grounds that the minister suspects the transferee has a substantial criminal record or would expose the Australian community to a serious risk of criminal conduct.2

36
Lie

Morrison: [On his legislative priorities for 2019] “We want to make sure that we continue the momentum we’ve had with the measures on national security. They’re the things that have always kept my focus. But there are a range of remaining items that have been outstanding on the legislative agenda for this year and we’re just going to make sure we take them through. There’s some environmental legislation to that end that I know is important for native species and a few other things like this.”1

The truth: When asked to identify the “environmental legislation”, the Prime Minister’s Office said Morrison was referring to the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017, which banned animal testing for new cosmetic ingredients.2

BONUS LIE

Morrison: [On mass extinction] “We already introduced and passed legislation through the Senate actually dealing with that very issue in the last week of the parliament. We’ve been taking action on that.”3

The truth: No legislation dealing with extinction or native species was passed in the last week of parliament, or any preceding weeks.4

1 Interview, January 14 2019

2 The Guardian, January 14, 2019

3 Election campaign statement, 7 May 2019

4 The Guardian, May 9, 2019

37
Lie

Morrison: “The latest projections report confirms our government has set Australia on track to meet and beat our 2030 target.”1

The truth: The then-current 2018 Australia’s Emissions Projections 2018 — on which Morrison was commenting — showed that in 2030 Australia was projected to emit more than 115 Mt CO2-e more than the lower target of 26% below 2005 levels. In terms of cumulative emissions, Australia was projected to be 328 Mt CO2-e above its lower target level by 2030 even using Kyoto carryover credits, which have been criticised internationally.

The current, post-pandemic projection for 2020 is that Australia will still be well above the 26% target in 2030. Only the inclusion of a special scenario, based on the government’s “Technology Investment Roadmap”, allows a forecast that comes in just above the upper target of 28% below 2005 levels.2