PM Scott Morrison ‘rolled’ by cabinet on Religious Discrimination deal

PM Scott Morrison

The first week of parliament for 2022 has ended up being a disaster for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as his signature legislation on Religious Discrimination is shelved indefinitely and an embarrassing cabinet leak suggests he was pushing for a ‘horse trading’ deal to push the bill through the parliament.

The Australian newspaper has published claims that on Monday night the Prime Minister presented cabinet with a plan to get independent MP Helen Haines and moderate Liberals to support the government’s version of the Religious Discrimination Bill by promising action on an Federal Integrity Commission.

The bombshell report from Peter van Onselen claims that Scott Morrison proposed to add discussion of a Federal Integrity Commission to the debate notice paper. The version of the integrity bill to be put forward would have incorporate features proposed by Helen Haines, the member for Indi.

The report claims that the Prime Minister believed he could convince moderate Liberal members, including Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer, to withdraw their threats to cross the floor, while also gaining the support of Haines. It has been reported that cabinet erupted with multiple members strongly voicing their opposition to the proposed plan.

Cabinet refused to endorse the plan, although it has been suggested that Stuart Robert, the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business was supportive, as was Senate Leader Simon Birmingham.

Speaking to the media on Thursday Stuart Robert refused to comment on the report saying cabinet discussions were confidential.

The leaking of the plan though is an embarrassing outcome for the Prime Minister as it shows someone in his government is willing to leak information that paints him in a bad light, and it also suggests his political decisions are being questioned by his closest colleagues.

The leak to Peter van Onselen, who works for The Australian and Channel Ten is the second revelation in as many weeks that have put the Prime Minister is a challenging spot.

Last week, in front of the National Press Club, van Onselen revealed that a current cabinet minister had allegedly described Morrison as a “horrible person” and a “complete psycho” in a text message exchange with Gladys Berejiklian.

The former New South Wales premier has said she has no recollection of the exchange and several front bench Ministers have denied being the author of the brutal character assessment. Days later Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce confessed that he had also sent messages that were disparaging of the Prime Minister’s character.

Long standing Liberal member Senator Eric Abetz commented on the Prime Minister’s leadership on Thursday evening saying he believed the Prime Minister had the support of the party room and would be leading the government into the election.

OIP Staff

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