Hamish Macdonald's Powerful On-Air Response To The PM
"The Prime Minster says that he wants the truth," Hamish Macdonald said on Wednesday night. "So, here are some facts."
The Project host was responding to Scott Morrison's threat of defamation against Waleed Aly, for an emotional response to the Christchurch massacre heard around the world.
Without naming the PM, Aly mentioned a widely circulated report from 2011, claiming the then-shadow immigration spokesperson Morrison urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate's "growing concerns about 'Muslim immigration'."
Following Aly's editorial, the PM's office spent large parts of this week claiming the 2011 report was false.
"It is a disgraceful smear and an appalling lie," Morrison told the ABC.
That, Macdonald said on Wednesday night, is false.
"The report was confirmed by multiple sources inside the room and denied by some others," he said in a blistering editorial on Wednesday night.
"Other senior journalist verified and reported on the same story at the time. And it's a story that has dogged Scott Morrison ever since."
He confirmed The Project had spoken to the journalist behind the report, Lenore Taylor prior to Aly's editorial, who in turn confirmed her sources had never reneged on their account.
He also confirmed Morrison's office threatened to sue Aly for defamation, first reported by the New Daily. When asked by the ABC if he intended to follow through with those threats, Morrison said he had "no intention of doing that, I just simply want people to report the truth."
"The PM says he wants the truth," Macdonald said.
"Well, here are some facts.
"On Friday night, in the wake of the most horrific events in Christchurch, our colleague Waleed referenced that report in a powerful, personal reflection on what had just occurred.
"And another fact: later that night, the Prime Minister's office in a furious exchange said Waleed's comments were defamatory."
Macdonald revealed Morrison had been booked to appear on The Project live on Monday night, when he would be given an opportunity to respond. Instead, Morrison's media team cancelled his appearance altogether.
"Obviously, two months out from an election, this is being dragged into an ugly political fight."
He then set the record straight on Health Minister Greg Hunt, whom Morrison has name-checked as a supporter to his side of the story.
"Facts do matter," Macdonald said before audio played of Hunt giving an interview in 2011 confirming he was not in the shadow Cabinet meeting.
"If anything paints a clear picture of the state of Australian politics today, it is this:
"After Waleed made a genuine, thoughtful and reasoned contribution on Friday, a plea for the community to come together, the Prime Minister of our country threatened to sue.
"In contrast, New Zealand's Prime Minister invited Waleed to her country to sit down for an interview."
Aly's exclusive interview with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern will air on Monday night.
You can watch Macdonald's full editorial above.
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