Scott Morrison said he texted Anthony Albanese to tell him where he was going when he jetted off to Hawaii during the deadly bushfires of 2019 – but was later forced to backtrack on his claim.
The Prime Minister flew to the holiday island with his family without telling the public, the media or the Opposition where he was going, sparking nationwide intrigue.
It only emerged he was in Hawaii when photos surfaced of him hanging out with Aussies in his board shorts – and he was heavily criticised for leaving the country during one of the worst bushfire seasons on record.
Scott Morrison is pictured with Aussies in Hawaii in the photo that revealed where he was during the bushfire crisis
In Question Time on Monday, Labor MP Fiona Phillips asked the Prime Minister why his office refused to answer questions about his holiday from journalists at the time.
‘When my electorate was burning, the Prime Minister’s office told journalists he was not on holiday in Hawaii. Why did the Prime Minister’s office say that when it wasn’t true,’ she asked.
Mr Morrison did not directly answer the question but said he had told the Labor leader where he was going.
‘I texted him from the plane when I was going on that leave, and told him where I was going and he was fully aware of where I was travelling with my family,’ he said.
Mr Albanese later corrected Mr Morrison, saying: ‘Mr Speaker, that is not true.
‘On the 15th of December, 2019, at 9.44pm, the Prime Minister did text me saying he was going on leave. He did not tell me where he was going.
‘He said he was going with his family. I kept that text message confidential, as you do with private text messages between private phones.’
Mr Albanese said Mr Morrison disclosed his text to the Labor leader in an interview with 2GB after frantically returning from Hawaii as the bushfires worsened but insisted: ‘At no stage did he tell me where he was going.’
Mr Morrison is pictured with wife Jenny in Hawaii before he was forced to fly home under pressure
The 2019 bushfires destroyed more than 2,000 homes and killed at least 30 people. A Royal Commission heard the fires were linked to more than 445 deaths due to smoke inhalation. Pictured: NSW Firefighters in December 2019
Mr Morrison was then forced to admit that he didn’t actually tell Mr Albanese where he was going.
‘Where I was going was on leave, Mr Speaker, and that was the important thing,’ he said to jeers from the Opposition.
‘He knew I was taking leave, Mr Speaker. I told him I was taking leave. And Mr Speaker, he chose to politicise that and has done so ever since.’
Mr Morrison later added to his answer, again admitting he did not tell Mr Albanese where he was going.
‘I want to confirm what the leader of the opposition said that in that text I did not tell him the destination of where I was going on leave with my family,’ he said.
Mr Albanese (pictured in Parliament) corrected Mr Morrison, saying: ‘Mr Speaker, that is not true’
‘I simply communicated to him that I was taking leave. When I was referring to he knew where I was going and was fully aware I was traveling with my family what I meant was, that we were going on leave together.
‘I know I didn’t tell him where we were going, because Mr. Speaker, that is a private matter where members take leave and I know I didn’t tell him the destination, nor would I.
‘Nor would he expects me to have told told him where he was going. I simply confirmed to him that I was taking leave with my family, and he was aware of that, at that time.’
The 2019 bushfires destroyed more than 2,000 homes and killed at least 30 people. A Royal Commission heard the fires were linked to more than 445 deaths due to smoke inhalation.
Mr Morrison was forced to cut his trip to Hawaii short and returned alone, leaving his family on the island.
He defended his holiday in a 2GB interview where he said ‘I don’t hold a hose, mate’ and was roundly criticised for that response.
Mr Morrison then visited fire victims in the NSW town of Cobargo where he was filmed forcing a volunteer fireman and a woman to shake his hand.
The fiasco saw his poll ratings nosedive before he recovered his popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Morrison exchanges words with Mr Albanese during heated debate in Parliament on Monday