The PM’s fight with Project host Waleed Aly doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon after last night’s episode hit back at Morrison for dragging Aly into an “ugly political fight”.
Yesterday, the PM said to ABC TV that Waleed told an “appalling lie” after repeating claims that in 2011 Morrison had suggested his party tap into anti-Muslim sentiment for votes.
Last night on The Project, host Hamish Macdonald revealed that after Aly’s emotional editorial in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks, the PM’s office contacted the show in a “furious exchange”, claiming what Aly said about Morrison was “defamatory”.
Macdonald said: “Now we offered Mr Morrison the opportunity to respond live on this desk when he was due to appear on this program on Monday.
“Not only did he decline, but his media team pulled him out of the scheduled appearance altogether.
“Obviously, two months out from an election, this is being dragged into an ugly political fight”.
Macdonald also said the report Aly referenced about Morrison had been “confirmed by multiple sources inside the room and denied by some others”, but it had “dogged Scott Morrison ever since”.
Macdonald added: “In truth, no-one but those in that room can now say for sure what was said and there does seem to be two very distinct versions.
“But we as a country know what our leaders have been saying about refugees and immigrants and Muslims for well over a decade”.
Adding to the argument, Macdonald said the reason why he was delivering The Project’s response and not Aly was a prime example of the state of Australian politics.
“If anything paints a clearer picture on the state of Australian politics today it is this; after Waleed made that genuine, thoughtful, and reasoned contribution on Friday night — a plea for our 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.
“If you want to know why I’m here tonight and not Waleed that’s why, that’s where he is.
And so Mr Morrison to you, personally, that invitation to come here and have that conversation that is so desperately needed is always open”.