Liberal senator blasts 'ruthless' Scott Morrison in extraordinary parliament speech
It was supposed to be the night the government delivered a cash-splashing budget to springboard into an election campaign, but one Liberal senator had other ideas.
On the floor of parliament on Tuesday night, minutes after the government delivered its budget, outgoing senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells threw a grenade at her own party and prime minister.
The conservative NSW senator, and former ally, attacked the prime minister for being "ruthless" and "not fit to be prime minister" in an extraordinary speech in which she pulled back the lid on factional shenanigans.
"He is adept at running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds, lacking a moral compass and having no conscience," she told the Senate.
"In my public life, I have met ruthless people. Morrison tops the list followed closely by (Immigration Minister Alex) Hawke. Morrison is not fit to be prime minister, and Hawke is certainly is not fit to be a minister."
She argued Mr Morrison's actions conflict with his self-portrayal as a man of religious faith.
"He has used his so-called faith as a marketing advantage," she said.
The senator, who lost preselection for her NSW upper house seat, has decided to salt the earth on her way out.
The end of Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' diatribe against Morrison. Peter Whish-Wilson's reaction at the end is all of us, tbh pic.twitter.com/uFPIdJ60Rw
— Andrew Brown (@AndrewBrownAU) March 29, 2022
Mr Morrison has repeatedly been dogged by questions over his trustworthiness and Ms Fierravanti-Wells is the latest colleague to challenge him on his dishonesty.
She also labelled Mr Morrison an "autocrat", adding that other members of the Liberal Party shared a similar view.
"They have lost faith in the party, they want to leave. They don't like Morrison and they don't trust him," she said.
"Morrison is not interested in the rules-based order. It is his way or the highway, an autocrat, a bully who has no moral compass."
Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has used parliamentary privilege to absolutely obliterate Scott Morrison in the Senate. It is sure to derail the budget sell tomorrow. Extraordinary.
— Peter van Onselen 🎣 (@vanOnselenP) March 29, 2022
The comments come after Senator Fierravanti-Wells was relegated to an unwinnable spot on the Liberals' NSW Senate ticket.
In the wake of preselection issues, the senator outlined claims she had previously been bullied by members of her own party.
Scott Morrison accused of making racist comments
In Tuesday night's speech, she also accused the prime minister of making racist comments during his preselection in 2007.
"I'm advised that there are several statutory declarations to attest to racial comments made by Morrison at the time that we can't have a Lebanese person in court," she said.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said Mr Morrison and Mr Hawke had deliberately contrived a crisis in the NSW branch of the Liberal party for a year so they could have their own candidates installed.
"There is a putrid stench of corruption emanating from the NSW division of the Liberal party," she said.
It's not the first time a Liberal or government colleague has been so uncharitable about the prime minister's character, but it's the first time they have done it in such a public fashion.
Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce labelled Mr Morrison a "hypocrite" and a "liar", saying in a leaked message that "I have never trusted him and I dislike how he earnestly rearranges the truth to a lie".
It followed earlier reports that former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian privately regarded Mr Morrison as a "bully".
In leaked text messages with another Liberal government member the prime minister was described as a a "complete psycho" and a "fraud".
Scott Morrison responds to senator's comments
What asked about the comments on ABC on Wednesday morning, Mr Morrison said he understands the outgoing senator is disappointed about her place on the party's senate ticket.
"There's disappointments in politics. Both of my predecessors have earned similar accusations, maybe not exactly put like that. But, you know, people get disappointed.
"If there's serious issues that Connie would like to raise about these things, we have processes in our party."
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