Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied reports that in late 2010 he urged his then opposition colleagues to exploit community concerns about Muslim immigration as a political issue.
The Bug has obtained a tape of the relevant shadow cabinet meeting (pictured) where Mr Morrison raised the issue. The tape clarifies the remarks by Mr Morrison who was then the Opposition spokesperson on immigration.
We are not at liberty to divulge who made the recording or who passed it on to us for publication.
Transcript of audio recording of part of a December 2010 meeting of the federal Shadow Cabinet:
Tony Abbott: So it’s agreed then. When we win office, Joe will deliver the aah, huh, huh, huh, Abbott Government’s first Federal Budget that will cut shit out of just about every spending program, especially education, health, and welfare.
Joe Hockey: You got it mate. It’ll be a real winner I can guarantee it. It’ll set us up for who knows how many terms in office and who knows how many terms for you as PM.
Tony Abbott: Yeah mate, I reckon you’re right. Now, aaahh, huh huh huh….we should move on to the next item on the agenda which is ……Holy shit, what’s that smell?
Julie Bishop: Bugger me. Someone open a window. Jeez, did you drop one again, Joe?
Joe Hockey: Not me this time Jules. But thanks anyway for thinking of me.
Tony Abbott: Now, aaahh, huh huh huh… Scott…aaah, mate, it’s coming from your end of the table. And just what is that on the table in front of you?
Scott Morrison: Yes, the stench is coming from this end, and that is a dead cat.
Others: General cries of “What the fuck?”
Tony Abbott: Now, aaahh, huh huh huh…you wanna explain, Scotty?
Scott Morrison: My pleasure my Future Prime Minister…. (softer) .… if I don’t get there first.
Tony Abbott: What’s that, Scotty?
Scott Morrison: No, nothing Future Prime Minister. Let me explain the dead cat….
Malcolm Turnbull: Just before you do, ScoMo, can you speak up a bit?
Scott Morrison: (louder) How’s that Malcolm? Is that better?
Malcolm Turnbull: Much better.
Scott Morrison: Don’t know why you can’t hear me when you’re sitting right next to me, but anyway….. Look, I got the dead cat — no offence intended, Malcolm ….
Malcolm Turnbull: None taken, ScoMo. Different colour anyway.
Scott Morrison: I got the dead cat and dumped it here to get your undivided attention.
Tony Abbott: Okay, aah, huh, huh… I think you’ve got that Scotty.
Scott Morrison: Thank you My Leader…. (softer) until I snatch the job….
Tony Abbott: What’s that ….. aah, huh, huh, Scotty?
Scott Morrison: No, nothing My Leader. Now let me please explain the dead cat…. You see as a marketing genius I needed to get your attention and to focus it on one big issue. It’s an issue that has great potential for us as a party, as a Coalition, as an opposition, and as a future government.
Tony Abbott: Okay, aah, huh, huh… what’s that, Scotty?
Scott Morrison: That issue, My Leader and Future Prime Minister is immigration, specifically community concerns about Muslim immigration. We should address the concerns about Islam in the community.
Others in the room gasp.
Scott Morrison: Yep, that’s right. It’s a sensitive issue. Look, let me be clear…. What I am saying is that we need to address these community concerns.
Julie Bishop: So you’re saying we should capitalise on Islamaphobia for cheap political gain?
Scott Morrison: That’s not what I’m saying Jules.
Julie Bishop: Why are you winking at me?
Scott Morrison: Sorry Jules. I’m not winking just at you. Look, I think that there are these fears in the community and that we have to address them. Besides, mate, you had to be there like I was at the Cronulla riots to understand the depth of community concern. The actions of some of those there frightened the bejesus out of me.
Julie Bishop: The naked racism of ignorant, white Australians?
Scott Morrison: Well, yes, that too, I suppose. The bottom line is we need to address the issue of Muslim immigration.
Christopher Pyne: Now you’re winking at me.
Scott Morrison: No mate, not just you. What I’m saying is …..
Christopher Pyne: You are winking at me. There you go again.
Scott Morrison: Look, all I’m saying is I see that there are these fears in the community and that we have to address them.
Tony Abbott: Okay, aah, huh, huh…mate, I know exactly what you mean. (winking) Count me in. It’s a big and very complex issue but I’m sure you can get it down to three words?
Scott Morrison: No worries. This is an issue we have to….. address and suppress….
Tony Abbott: Address and suppress! I like it. Like it a lot
Scott Morrison: Well, yes people are fearful and we have to address that.
Joe Hockey: Stop winking.
Malcolm Turnbull: For the record, I’d just like to mention how ScoMo pushed down with his hands then as he said “address and suppress” … like he was pushing down on a pillow to suffocate a wicked idea that threatened to take over our lives. Very dramatic gesture.
Scott Morrison: Thanks, Malcolm, that’s very kind.
Malcolm Turnbull: My pleasure. Sorry, ScoMo, do you mind if I just bring this vase of flowers closer to you…
Scott Morrison: To block out the cat smell?
Malcolm Turnbull: Well, yes, that too. And can you speak in its general direction?
Scott Morrison: Sure. Whatever.