Scott Morrison’s ill-fated holiday in Hawaii burns him again

Just when Scott Morrison might have hoped his ill-fated holiday to Hawaii was merely an unfortunate memory from two summers ago – the happy melody of ukuleles consumed by bushfires back home – it has returned to haunt him.

The holiday, kept secret while much of Australia burned, has now scorched Morrison for a second time.

Scott Morrison’s judgment was called into question over his Hawaii holiday during the bushfires.

He was forced to explain on Monday how he had misled Parliament when he claimed he had told the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, that he was going to Hawaii in the first place.

For a leader on the path to a tough election, so recently and spectacularly accused of being a liar, it could barely have been more squirm-inducing.

Albanese’s Labor opposition, keen to keep the focus on the contested subject of Morrison’s trustworthiness, spent much of Monday’s question time asking curly questions designed to turn inside out the Prime Minister’s narratives about touchy subjects from vaccine mandates to Clive Palmer.

But it was a query from Fiona Phillips, Labor’s member for Gilmore on the fire-ravaged NSW South Coast that turned Morrison’s mood as sour as a curdled tropical cocktail.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacts to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in Question Time.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“When my electorate was burning,” Phillips began, “the Prime Minister’s Office told journalists he was not on holiday in Hawaii. Why did the Prime Minister’s Office say that when it wasn’t true?”

The Speaker, Tony Smith – in his high chair for the last time – pondered whether to allow the question.

But he allowed it, and Morrison chose to gild the lily.

“I can only speak to what I have said, as the Leader of the Opposition will know, because I texted him from the plane when I was going on that leave, and told him where I was going, and he was fully aware of where I was travelling with my family,” said the Prime Minister.

As he sat down, he and Albanese began furiously arguing across the table.

Albanese bided his time.

With question time over, and Morrison’s mood clearly descending to something analogous with a South Pacific thunderstorm, Albanese rose to make a personal explanation, and began by wielding a dagger.

“I kept that text message confidential,” he said of Morrison’s texted advice about going on leave, “As you do with private text messages between private phones.”

No one could miss the unspoken jab. A private text message from French President Emmanuel Macron to Morrison’s phone was famously leaked only weeks ago after Macron accused Morrison of lying to him.

And then the flourish of the knife.

At no stage had the Prime Minister revealed where he was taking his holiday, said Albanese.

As much of the House of Representatives gave Mr Speaker a rousing farewell, the Prime Minister sat smouldering. He knew he was in a soup of his own making.

Shortly after, he stood and admitted he had embellished the truth.

“I want to confirm what the Leader of the Opposition said; that in that text I did not tell him the destination of where I was going on leave with my family,” he confessed.

“I simply communicated to him that I was taking leave. When I was referring to, ‘He knew where I was going and was fully aware I was travelling with my family,’ what I meant was that we were going on leave together.

“I know I didn’t tell him where we were going because, Mr Speaker, that is a private matter where members take leave, and I know I didn’t tell him the destination – nor would I and nor would he expect me to have to have told him where he [sic] was going. I simply confirmed to him that I was taking leave with my family, and he was aware of that at that time. Thank you, Mr Speaker.”

How the Prime Minister must have wished himself somewhere far, far away. Just not, you’d imagine, in Hawaii.

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