Even if you caught just a snippet of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s interview on The Project with Waleed Aly tonight, there’s a fairly good chance you felt excruciating discomfort. For 36 minutes, questions were asked and sometimes sort of answered, sometimes taken for a dizzying spin around the block.
It didn’t take long for things to become tense. Minutes into the interview, Aly re-asked Morrison if his Party has a problem with Islamophobia after the PM appeared to stretch his initial answer too wide.
This was one of the biggest moments as Waleed Aly spoke to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison on @theprojecttv tonight #theproject #theprojecttv pic.twitter.com/qQ5zoUtpl0— 10 daily (@10Daily) March 21, 2019
After Friday’s Christchurch terror attacks, Aly appeared on The Project and cited a 2011 report in which Morrison told a Coalition frontbench meeting that they should encourage anti-Muslim thoughts for political gain. The PM has since denied these claims, labelling them a “disgusting smear and appalling lie.”
In tonight’s interview, Morrison again denied he had pushed any anti-Muslim sentiment in the meeting. Instead, he said he had actually raised the issue because he was concerned for Muslims in Australia.
“I was acknowledging there were these fears in the community and we have to address them, not exploit them.”
I was concerned about those fears in the community and it has always been my practice, as I’ve demonstrated to you outside the parliament and inside the parliament, to seek to address those.
… This is why on Saturday, after these horrendous attacks, I went to speak to those at the Lakemba mosque, I was greeted with hugs and tears. Do you think that is the act of someone who hasn’t been working closely with the Islamic community in Sydney for a long time?
“I’m asking you a question about a report that is sourced from multiple journalists,” Aly replied.
Again, Morrison denied the report’s contents particularly because it quoted “two unnamed sources”. However, Aly pointed out that one source has since come forward.
“It never happened,” Morrison said. “Such a report is so at odds with my experience and actions that I think that speaks for itself.”
Considering One Nation‘s heavy anti-Muslim play, Aly then asked if Morrison will preference them last – or at least below the Greens and Labor – on Liberal‘s how-to-vote cards at the upcoming election.
Morrison didn’t answer the question and instead said the matter would be “determined by the party when we know what the nominations are.”
“Do you think, particularly in the circumstances that we face right now, that the Liberal Party and the National Party… should be preferencing One Nation below Labor and the Greens?”— The Project (@theprojecttv) March 21, 2019
Waleed asks about preferencing One Nation and the PM responds. #auspol #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/QLpBu5apem
To say the least, our PM did not do well on Twitter tonight.
Waleed was cool, calm and collected, came with facts and had prepared probing questions. From the other side we got bluster, arrogance, constant interruptions of the interviewer, and rambling, sometimes incoherent, “stories” and a whole lot of smirking. #TheProjectTV #TheProject— Lauren Hill (@lozzhill) March 21, 2019
I tuned into #TheProjectTV already feeling sad for our country.— Jonathan Brown (JB) (@JB_AU) March 21, 2019
I feel sadder.
This was an opportunity for a leader to stand up and say I will never accept hate driving our Parliament again.
That opportunity wasn't taken.
Why can’t @ScottMorrisonMP answer the question. Does the Coalition have a problem with Islamophobia? #TheProjectTV— Eleni Paneras (@EleniPaneras) March 21, 2019
O god.— knifey (((cypher))) (@jahan_tyson) March 21, 2019
Scott Morrison could be offering strength. Compassion. Insight.
Instead he is accusatory. Defensive. Aggressive.
This is a massive fail. #TheProjectTV#AusPol
Reflecting on why I found #theprojecttv so disturbing.— Tom Swann (@Tom_Swann) March 21, 2019
Waleed Aly is a distinguished thinker and commentator with a national audience.
Waleed asked about racism.
Scott Morisson spoke to him like he was a boy.
You can watch the interview below.
LIVE: Waleed and the PM sit down for the conversation Australia has been waiting to hear, commercial-free https://t.co/XWQ2Vi2hNk— The Project (@theprojecttv) March 21, 2019