Scott Morrison clashed with a robust Leigh Sales on Tuesday night and was pressed hard on several scrutinised matters under his leadership.
The veteran journalist has since been praised for her rigorous approach with Mr Morrison on ABC’s 7.30 program where she refused to accept any responses that didn’t directly answer her line of questioning.
In an early bombardment, Sales stripped bare the prime minister’s perceived lack of action in several key areas.
“Let me run through some of it with you ... You have done nothing on IR or superannuation, nothing on GST reform, nothing big on company tax reform, no target for emissions reduction beyond 2030, business leaders feel there is no agenda,” she quipped.
"The National Audit Office reviewed this matter, made recommendations and we adopted all of them and the minister resigned." – Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP on the sports grants saga. #abc730 #auspol pic.twitter.com/ZpqLMoUMxs
— abc730 (@abc730) March 3, 2020
Sales turned up the heat further when she moved on to a series of incidences she argued have lacked transparency, including the sports rorts affair where the Morrison government is accused of handing out millions of dollars of funding to sports clubs located in marginal seats to be won at election.
However Mr Morrison deflected from questioning, insisting people want to know about bigger issues such as coronavirus and bushfires.
But Sales hit back, questioning Mr Morrison on how such matters have shaped his public image.
“The reason I’m asking about this is when you want to talk about those big issues, people’s trust in you and your credibility are your most important assets,” she said.
“I’ve outlined two examples where your ministers have breached public trust and in both cases you’re saying to voters ‘there’s nothing to see here’.”
At this point an agitated Mr Morrison urged Sales not to paraphrase him.
“That’s not what I said,” he hit back.
Sales continued in unrelenting fashion, further angering Mr Morrison with the line of questioning.
“I don’t accept the assertion you are putting to me. You are making accusations ... Like the Labor Party does,” he said.
Yet Sales insisted her examples were “concrete” and said she wasn’t interested in accusations Labor leader Anthony Albanese makes in parliament.
Referencing his office’s secrecy during his Hawaii holiday amid the bushfire crisis, Sales said: “You’re not answering what I’m asking.”
“I could have been more candid about it at the time, I wish I was, but frankly it wasn’t a big deal,” Mr Morrison responded.
Social media praises Morrison ‘shredding’
Minutes after the interview aired, users flooded social media with praise for Sales’ tough response to the prime minister, with some claiming she had “shredded” Mr Morrison.
“Fantastic questioning Leigh. Holding our PM to account, which was great to see,” one person wrote.
“Valiant effort in asking what many of us want to know,” another said.
Yes Leigh Sales was A+ really put it to Morrison,who of course fudged the question or feigned indignation !
— Colleen M (@colleenhm) March 3, 2020
Great to see Leigh Sales step up tonight, high time Morrison was pulled-up and called out.
— Frank (@FrankieJBroph) March 3, 2020
“Leigh Sales at her best tonight ... fantastic,” one person tweeted.
Many praised Sales for not allowing Mr Morrison to speak over her.
“Sales was excellent. Brave, respectful and searching,” one person said.
“Hope to see more of this hard questioning of all politicians in the future,” another wrote.
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