Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally delivered a stronger rebuke of Donald Trump following the insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington DC, saying the President’s actions had encouraged “terrible” outcomes.
“The things that were said that encouraged others to come to the Capitol and engage in that way were incredibly disappointing,” Mr Morrison told 2GB radio on Monday.
The Australian PM had been chided by some for not criticising Mr Trump more strongly for spreading unfounded conspiracy theories about a “stolen” election, which encouraged hundreds of Republican supporters to storm the Capitol building on January 6.
Trump supporters breached the Senate chamber, where American senators were meeting to formally certify the results of November’s presidential election.
“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” Mr Trump told a ‘Stop The Steal’ rally that day, claiming the election was “rigged” and telling his supporters to “fight like hell”.
British PM Boris Johnson slammed Mr Trump, claiming “he encouraged people to storm the Capitol” and “was completely wrong”.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said the insurrection was “incited by the current president” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr Trump “set the atmosphere which made the events of the night possible”.
But Mr Morrison, who has enjoyed a far better relationship with Mr Trump than other world leaders, did not go so far in his criticism.
In a press conference on January 8, Mr Morrison called the Capitol events “distressing” but did not comment directly on the President, despite fielding multiple questions related to him.
“I think what we’ve seen in the United States is terribly distressing, terribly concerning … it’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening there,” Mr Morrison said at the time.
“It’s not for me to offer commentary on other leaders. I don’t do that out of respect for those nations. And that’s where I’m going to leave that matter.
“I’ve expressed my great concern and distress about what has been happening in the United States, just as other leaders of the world’s democracies have and I concur with their view.”
Mr Morrison was criticised at the time by some for not taking a stronger line on Mr Trump.
But on Monday, back from a week-long family holiday to the NSW south coast, Mr Morrison called Mr Trump’s actions “disappointing”.
“The events we’ve seen in the United States have been, as I said, deeply distressing. The actions have been very disappointing. I join with other leaders who have said what they’ve said,” he told 2GB.
“This is American politics. It’s not Australian politics.”
When asked if he was specifically “disappointed” in Mr Trump, Mr Morrison answered “I’ve echoed the comments of other leaders about those things”.
“I think it was disappointing, very disappointing that things were allowed to get to that to that stage,” Mr Morrison said.
“The things that were said, that encouraged others to come to the Capitol and engage in that way, were incredibly disappointing, very disappointing.
“The outcomes were terrible.”
But the PM added “what’s more important now is not for me to be providing lectures to anybody. That’s not my job.”
He said he hoped incoming US President Joe Biden would be “a close friend and a very strong ally”, who Australia looked forward to working with.
“I spoke to [Mr Biden] not long after the election after he, you know, clearly won the election. And we had a very good conversation at that time,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes there as a government, and there’s been a lot of engagement with other countries around these issues with whom we share similar interests and we wish them all the best.”