Scott Morrison has taken a brutal swipe at the ABC’s 7.30 program after refusing to commit to two interviews with host Leigh Sales during the election campaign.
The Prime Minister faced a grilling from Sales on Tuesday night, answering tough questions about criticism from members of his own party, as well as his friendship with disgraced Hillsong founder Brian Houston.
But as the interview was wrapping up, Sales asked the Prime Minister if he would commit to two interviews with her during the election campaign – sparking a feisty back and forth between the pair.
‘Prime Minister, every election campaign for the past 27 years that this show has been on, both leaders have done a couple of prime-time interviews on this show during the campaign,’ the journalist said.
‘I’ve already invited Mr Albanese and he agreed. So I wanted to invite you while I’m here. Would you be happy to do a couple of interviews on air?’
But the PM refused to commit – simply saying he would appear across ‘many programs’ during the campaign.
‘Well, we’ll be appearing on the ABC and everybody’s programs over the course of the campaign, Leigh, and we’ve always made ourselves pretty available,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘That’s not a direct answer, actually. Will you be doing two interviews on prime-time on 7.30?’ Sales fired back.
Mr Morrison then blatantly said the ‘election isn’t about the 7.30 Report’.
‘It’s about the Australian people and we’ll make ourselves available to the ABC and all the networks and I’ll be standing up every day,’ he said.
Sales then pointed out he’d be the first Prime Minister not to appear on the program throughout the campaign.
Scott Morrison has taken a swipe at the prominence of the ABC’s 7.30 Report, after refusing to commit to two interviews with host Leigh Sales during the election campaign
‘You will be the first Prime Minister in 27 years to not do two interviews on the main prime-time current affairs program in country,’ she said.
Mr Morrison flatly responded: ‘Surprisingly, I don’t think the major issue that people are thinking about at the next election is the 7.30 Report.’
Sales replied: ‘No, not at all but they do want to hear from and that’s a million people that you’re turning your back on if you don’t do it.’
‘They will get that opportunity, Leigh,’ the prime minister concluded.
Sales then promised to ‘put in a bid everyday’ until she heard back from Mr Morrison.
Earlier in the interview the veteran journalist asked the PM about leaked text messages sent by former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to another Liberal minister describing the PM as a ‘horrible person’.
The PM said he would appear across many programs during the election campaign
Mr Morrison quickly shot down the accusation, claiming Ms Berejiklian denied sending the message – despite the former premier never formerly doing so.
In January, after the bombshell text exchange was made public, Ms Berejiklian issued a statement expressing support for the PM – but she never claimed she was not responsible.
‘I understand there has been some commentary today concerning myself and the PM. I have no recollection of such messages,’ Ms Berejiklian’s statement read.
‘Let me reiterate my very strong support for Prime Minister Morrison and all he is doing for our nation during these very challenging times.
‘I also strongly believe he is the best person to lead our nation for years to come.’
Defending his reputation, Mr Morrison claimed long lists of scorching discreditations were inevitable as prime minister.
Leigh Sales was left begging for an answer to whether Mr Morrison would appear on her program for two more interviews during the election campaign
He was also asked about his relationship with Mr Houston, who last month resigned amid allegations he harassed two women in the church.
‘Why did you kind of disown him last week when you were asked [by reporters] about that [situation] given he a long-term close friend?’ Sales said.
‘I wouldn’t describe that as my reaction. I said I was disappointed and I was shocked,’ Mr Morrison said.
Sales shot back: ‘[But] as a loyal mate, why didn’t you say ‘I don’t want to join a pile on of this bloke?”
Mr Morrison deflected the question, reiterating his initial response.
‘I didn’t. I said I was disappointed and shocked like a lot of people have been and the church’s response was very appropriate and I think it was,’ he said.
Mr Morrison is expected to call the election in the coming days.
Mr Morrison was asked about his friendship with Hillsong founder Brian Houston (pictured right with wife) who resigned last month amid allegations he harassed two women