Awkward moment Scott Morrison is asked: “Are you a buffoon?” over his ‘kangaroo court’ comments about the NSW Anti-Corruption Agency
- The prime minister was asked at a press conference if he was a “buffoon”.
- Undeterred, Mr Morrison asked the reporter to repeat the “muddled” question
- The ICAC official previously said those who criticized the watchdog were “buffoons”.
- PM disagrees NSW model for federal corruption watchdog is correct
Scott Morrison was asked if he was a “buffoon” for his controversial comments about a state’s anti-corruption agency.
Speaking alongside NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet in Sydney on Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister was asked about his criticism of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
“One of the commissioners said that those who call the ICAC a kangaroo court are buffoons. You described it as a kangaroo dish. Are you a buffoon?’ asked a reporter.
Mr Morrison maintained a neutral expression but blinked repeatedly 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 on their support for the NSW model of an anti-corruption watchdog
“I have serious criticisms of NSW’s ICAC model. I’ve never been a fan of how it conducts itself,” he said.
“I don’t care if barristers and barristers and others up there on Macquarie Street – not in (NSW) Parliament but in the Bar Chambers – disagree with me.”
“I’ve never had much to do with them in my entire political career. I let them do what they do, I 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” when he was under pressure to introduce a similar federal integrity commission.
The Commission’s high-profile investigation into former NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian over claims she broke public trust over her secret relationship with disgraced MP Daryl McGuire led to her early retirement from politics.
An unimpressed Mr Morrison asked the reporter to repeat his “muddled” question after being asked if he was a “buffoon” (pictured).
Last week, in a NSW parliamentary scrutiny, retiring ICAC commissioner Stephen Rushton said those who called the commission a kangaroo court were “buffoons”.
He added that the comments could undermine public confidence in ICAC’s work.
Mr Morrison said a different framework should be put in place for a federal version.
“I’ve seen it (ICAC) destroy people’s reputations and careers before it even made a determination and I don’t think that’s a good process,” he said.
“The design has to be right. It’s not just about having a populist-driven integrity commission.’
Mr Perrottet, who was a prominent defender of the NSW ICAC, acknowledged that he and the Prime Minister disagreed.
“I accept that we may disagree on how the NSW Model works. But at heart we both agree that there should be integrity agencies that ensure the best standards in public life,” Mr Perrottet said.
Former NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian (pictured in October) was investigated by ICAC in 2021 over her secret relationship with former MP Daryl McGuire
“I agree with the PM that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
The ICAC has played a crucial role in maintaining high standards of public office in NSW, he said.
“We have people in prison for their behavior and for the corruption that has occurred… take for example (former Labor MP) Eddie Obeid,” Mr Perrottet said.
“As Prime Minister of this state, I expect the highest standards of integrity from politicians or the civil service.”
Lawyers were quick to respond to Mr Morrison’s comments with the Australian Bar Association releasing a statement on Tuesday.
“Anyone who is not connected to lawyers cannot have made a diligent effort to understand their indispensable contribution to civil society,” said ABA President Dr. MattCollins.
“While there is room for debate about the design, powers and operation of a (federal) anti-corruption agency, it is neither correct nor constructive to describe the NSW ICAC as a kangaroo court.”