World Politics

Awkward moment Scott Morrison is asked 'are you a buffoon?' as he appears with Dominic Perrottet

Awkward moment Scott Morrison gets asked “are you a jester?” on his ‘kangaroo court’ comments about the NSW anti-corruption body

  • The Prime Minister was asked at a press conference if he was a ‘buffoon’
  • Unimpressed, Mr Morrison asked the reporter to repeat the ‘confused’ question
  • An ICAC official previously said those criticizing the watchdog were ‘buffoons’
  • PM disagrees NSW model is correct for federal corruption watchdog

Scott Morrison was asked if he was a ‘buffoon’ for his controversial comments about a state’s anti-corruption agency.

Speaking alongside New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet in Sydney on Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister was asked about his criticism of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against corruption (ICAC).

“One of the commissioners said that those who portray the ICAC as a puppet court are buffoons. You described it as a mock court. Are you a jester? asked a reporter.

Mr Morrison kept a neutral expression but blinked several times before saying he stood by his earlier comments about the watchdog.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (left) admitted on Tuesday that he and Mr Morrison (right) disagree over their support for the NSW model of an anti-corruption watchdog

“I have serious criticism of the NSW ICAC model. I was never a fan of the way he conducted himself,” he said.

“I don’t care that the barristers and lawyers and others up there in Macquarie Street – not in (NSW) parliament but in the barristers’ chambers – don’t agree with me.”

“I’ve never had much truck with them in my entire political career. I’m going to let them do what they do, I’m going to focus on what I think is the right model for Australia.

Mr Morrison has repeatedly criticized the NSW ICAC, publicly calling it a ‘kangaroo court’ amid pressure to introduce a similar federal integrity commission.

The commission’s high-profile investigation into former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian over allegations that she betrayed the public’s trust over her secret relationship with disgraced MP Daryl McGuire, has caused his premature retirement from politics.

An unimpressed Mr Morrison asked the reporter to repeat his ‘confused’ question after he was asked if he was a ‘buffoon’ (pictured)

Last week, retired ICAC commissioner Stephen Rushton told an NSW parliamentary scrutiny that those calling the commission a kangaroo court were “buffoons”.

He added that the comments could undermine public confidence in the work of the ICAC.

Mr Morrison said a different framework should be introduced for a federal version.

“I’ve seen it (ICAC) destroy people’s reputations and careers before they even made a discovery and I don’t think it’s a good process,” he said.

‘The design of this one has to be right. It’s not just about having a populist-driven integrity commission.

Mr Perrottet, who has been a prominent supporter of the NSW ICAC, admitted he and the Prime Minister disagreed.

“I accept that we may disagree about how the NSW model works. But basically what we both agree on is that there should be integrity agencies in place that ensure the highest standards in public life,” Perrottet said.

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured in October) was investigated by the ICAC in 2021 over her secret relationship with former MP Daryl McGuire

“I agree with the Prime Minister (in this) it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The ICAC has played a pivotal role in maintaining high standards of public service in New South Wales, he said.

“We have people in jail because of their behavior and the corruption that has happened…take (former Labor MP) Eddie Obeid for example,” Mr Perrottet said.

“As premier of this state, whether it’s politicians or the public service, I expect the highest standards of integrity.”

Lawyers were quick to respond to Mr Morrison’s comments, with the Australian Bar Association issuing a statement on Tuesday.

“Anyone who doesn’t have a truckload of lawyers cannot have made a conscientious effort to understand their much-needed contribution to civil society,” said ABA President Dr. Matt Collins.

“While there is room for debate on the design, powers and mode of operation of a (federal) anti-corruption body, it is neither correct nor constructive to describe the NSW ICAC as a kangaroo court.”

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