Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he has never lied while in public life, following attacks from former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and French President Emmanuel Macron – and from closer to home.
The French president branded Morrison a liar at the G20 summit, following Australia’s communication of its decision to cancel a $90 billion submarine contract in favour of nuclear-powered vessels as part of the AUKUS pact.
Mr Turnbull also labelled Mr Morrison as dishonest, saying he had lied to him on multiple occasions while they were in government together.
Mr Morrison has also been called out by some media this week for false claims about Labor as he has spruiked his government’s electric vehicles policy in Victoria.
However, quizzed on Melbourne radio on Friday about whether he had ever lied during his time in public life, Mr Morrison denied the claims.
“I don’t believe I have, no,” he told 3AW on Friday.
“That’s politics, people take sledges at me all the time.”
Mr Morrison said there was no need for the Liberals to expel Mr Turnbull, as some in the party have sought.
“I don’t see the need for that. I mean, if other’s do that’s fine, but it’s just not something I think about,” he said.
Mr Morrison also said he wasn’t worried about public criticism after backing out of the French submarine deal.
“I wasn’t intimidated by the fact that that might upset some people and ruffle some feathers,” he said.
“I was prepared to make the decisions that I had no doubt were going to draw some flak.”
Mr Morrison confirmed the next federal election would be held in 2022. It is due by May.
He said his government would start the campaign as the underdog.
“I think that’s where we are now. I mean, that’s not uncommon for incumbent governments,” he said.
Later on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce defended Mr Morrison, saying he was reflecting on Mr Macron’s accusation and it was a “fair statement”.
When asked if he had lied in public life, Mr Joyce said he probably had.
“If you ask me a personal question about my life, I don’t have to give you a straight answer,” he said.
“If you ask me something that’s none of your business, I’m going to tell you what you want to hear to get out of my face.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he stood by his own record of integrity in public life, when quizzed on whether he had lied.
“Scott Morrison is someone who himself doesn’t have regard for his own words of yesterday. And therefore, Australians should not trust what he says today,” he said in Melbourne.
“That’s why this prime minister isn’t trusted here in Australia either, because it’s his own words that he walks away from as soon as he says them because he thinks that it doesn’t matter.”