Prime Minister Scott Morrison has practised long and hard for today’s National Press Club address as if his political life depends on a strong performance at it – and experts and Peter Van Onselen suggest that may very well be the case.
Some among the political commentariat argue that Mr Morrison today desperately needs to regain lost credibility after his Hawaiian holiday fiasco, his poor bushfire responses and the sports grant rorts and other ministerial scandals. Others argue the damage to his reputation and standing is already beyond repair and colleagues are likely to move against him this term.
In a world exclusive, The Bug can reveal that the PM set aside two four-hour sessions on both Monday and yesterday in a large conference room in his PM’s suite in Parliament House as aides and party advisers attempted to replicate the conditions Mr Morrison is expected to face at the NPC at noon today.
Several staffers played the Morrison ministers not currently tarnished by scandal and expected to be on hand to lend their leader moral support.
“With the work he’s put in, you’d think the PM was preparing for a crucial one-off campaign debate and that his entire future depends on him doing well,” an adviser told The Bug, the only media outlet allowed to watch the rehearsals on both days.
The Bug‘s snapper captured the PM above responding to some of the questions expected to be thrown at him by what is likely to be a fairly hostile and belligerent Canberra press corp.
On hand to provide advice on his answers were long-time Liberal Party campaign strategist Lynton Crosby and marketing guru Russel Howcroft, a regular panellist on the ABC’s Gruen program and a partner and chief creative officer at PwC Australia.
“Just shout ‘I know…. nuth-think!’ over and over again regardless of what you’re asked,” Mr Howcroft called out after each of Mr Morrison’s responses to a wide range of questions covering the sports rorts affair, the sports rorts affair, the sports rorts affair and Bridget McKenzie’s role in it.
“And then spend a helluva lot of money on an advertising campaign to restore your tattered image, yeah? And preferably with PwC, yeah?”
Sir Lynton was very supportive of each of Mr Morrison’s responses.
“Just remember, sir, that the media hate your guts because you proved them all wrong with your miracle win last May,” the master political strategist said.
“They’ll try to argue their current opposition is solely because you’ve proven over recent months to be a lying cunt, a useless national leader in times of crisis and a tin-eared political lightweight bereft of any real solutions to the country’s woes but don’t listen to any of that, sir!”
“They’re all just jealous. That’s the only reason for their hostility.”