Wild claims have circulated on social media during Scott Morrison’s controversial Hawaiian holiday.
They include: that the PM secretly travelled to New York to meet Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston, that his family stayed at a military-only hotel for US servicemen, and that he was meeting with friends who are part of a family of highly active members of a far-right conspiracy group.
The theories come after it was revealed earlier this year that Mr Morrison is close with a prominent promoter of the US-based conspiracy movement QAnon.
The FBI lists theories promoted by QAnon as a domestic terrorist threat in the US.
Setting the record straight
With the rumour mill in overdrive even as the Morrisons returned early from Hawaii, The New Daily put all of these claims to the Prime Minister’s office.
Q. Did the Prime Minister stay at a military hotel for US servicemen?
No. He stayed in a family hotel.
Q. Did he secretly fly to New York and meet up with Hillsong founder Brian Houston?
No. He had a holiday with his family in Hawaii. He wasn’t with anyone else. He did not travel to New York or anywhere else.
Q. Why did he not come home on Friday? Was there an issue getting a flight or something else? It was 24 hours later.
According to the Prime Minister’s office, he was hours away from an international airport.
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— Ben Parsons (@parso81) December 22, 2019
It said the Hawaii Air flight was the first available option. Waikiki beach, where he was photographed on Friday night, is a 17-minute drive from Honolulu airport – but it’s possible he was somewhere else in Hawaii when he learned the two firefighters had died.
Q. Did he plan to meet up with family friends linked to a far-Right QAnon conspiracy?
No. He was on holiday with his family. No one else. Except for his security team.
PM pens an opinion piece
Meanwhile, on Monday morning The Daily Telegraph published an op-ed from Scott Morrison.
In it, the PM defends his government’s response to the bushfire crisis and stressed the need for “real action on climate change”. But he claims “reckless” moves like ending coal exports and setting a stricter emissions target will have no “meaningful impact” on the global climate.
He also lists current policies around preventing bushfires, such as hazard reduction and land clearing laws.
Mr Morrison also wonders “how we can best sustain our extensive volunteer fire fighting effort”, saying they will be reviewed after the present emergency ends.
Mr Morrison concedes there is need for climate change action at all levels of government.
“There is no disagreement and there has not been any denial of this critical factor, either by the federal government or any state or territory government,” the op-ed reads.
“But to suggest that increasing Australia’s climate targets would have prevented these fires or extreme weather events, in Australia or anywhere else, is simply false.”
But he pushes back against more stringent action, including calls to end coal exports and set an emissions target.
“We won’t embrace reckless targets and abandon our traditional industries that would risk Australian jobs while having no meaningful impact on the global climate,” Mr Morrison writes.