Scott Morrison is facing backlash from all sides and has been accused of making “a bad situation worse” after describing Minister for Women Marise Payne as the “Prime Minister for Women”.
The Prime Minister has been criticised with PM for Women trending overnight after his major cabinet reshuffle on Monday which has seen a raft of changes to some of Australia’s top names and jobs after weeks of scandal.
Morrison has faced “intense pressure” after “a very bruising few weeks”, the BBC’s Australia correspondent Shaimaa Khalil said, describing the weeks of bombshell claims that “have really shaken his government to the core”.
But instead of fixing the problem, he’s “made a bad situation worse”, according to Sky News host and former chief of staff to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin.
An exasperated Credlin appeared on her program, Credlin, on Monday night, baffled over how Morrison kept making “fundamental mistakes” on women.
Meanwhile author Jane Caro told The Drum she was “gobsmacked” by his latest comment.
His press conference announcing the changes saw the two main names at the heart of allegations, former Attorney-General Christian Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, dumped from their roles in the second cabinet shake-up in four months.
In his speech, Morrison said the focus was on women.
As part of the shuffle and in response to some of the damning claims over the past six weeks since news.com.au revealed allegations from former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, the Prime Minister announced he would chair a new women’s task force in response to women’s equality alongside Minister for Foreign Affairs Payne.
He said the government had a record number of female ministers but getting results for Australian women “will be achieved through collaboration”.
“What we must do is address the Government’s agenda with the changes that we’re making and do so I think, with a fresh lens, in particular to achieving the outcomes, the results that we all want for Australian women across the country,” Morrison said.
“Getting these results for Australian women will be achieved through collaboration,” he said.
“They’ll be achieved through listening, they’ll be achieved by acting together, they won’t be achieved by dividing Australians and setting them apart.”
He said the cabinet task force on women’s equality, economic security, health and wellbeing will include all female members from the ministry as well as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
But Morrison slipped, saying Payne would become “effectively … the Prime Minister for Women” in her role as co-chair.
He was later questioned by a journalist: “Aren’t you the women’s prime minister? Aren’t you not fit to do the job of prime minister?”
He stopped to clarify the comments. He said the point he was trying to make was “misunderstood” and that “of course I’m prime minister”.
“In relation to what I should probably call the primary minister for women, just to ensure that no one gets too carried away with the puns … what I’m trying to bring together is a team of ministers and Marise Payne as Minister for Women can bring all that together as a leader of that portfolio team,” he said.
text by Matt Young, news.com.au