Prime Minister Scott Morrison has downplayed claims of bombshell text messages between former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and an unnamed Liberal cabinet minister.
In the messages – revealed by the Ten Network on Tuesday – Ms Berejiklian reportedly described Mr Morrison as “a horrible, horrible person” who she did not trust.
The cabinet minister also described Mr Morrison as a “fraud” and “a complete psycho”.
Network political editor Peter van Onselen said on Wednesday the unnamed minister was a current member of Mr Morrison’s cabinet.
Quizzed on Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said he was not upset by the messages, and had always had a positive relationship with Ms Berejiklian.
“In our own dealings with each other it’s always been very positive, and I think we’ve worked very well together as premier and prime minister to do very great things for NSW,” he said.
Mr Morrison said he hadn’t spoken to Ms Berejiklian on the issue, but did welcome a statement she had released.
Ms Berejiklian said later on Tuesday she couldn’t recall sending the messages.
“I understand there has been some commentary today concerning myself and the PM. I have no recollection of such messages,” she said.
“Let me reiterate my very strong support for Prime Minister Morrison and all he is doing for our nation during these very challenging times.
“I also strongly believe he is the best person to lead our nation for years to come.”
Sunrise host Natalie Barr asked Mr Morrison if he was upset by the messages. But he said hurtful comments “come with the job”.
“Of course, people say nasty things about you as prime minister all the time, they say nasty things about people in the media. Just switch on your social media feed and you’ll get quite a giggle, I get one all the time,” he said.
According to Ten, Ms Berejiklian allegedly also accused Mr Morrison of being obsessed with “petty political point-scoring” during the Black Summer bushfires.
“Lives are at stake today and [Scott Morrison] is just obsessed with petty, political point-scoring,” she wrote.
Ms Berejiklian also reportedly wrote she was “disappointed and gutted” that Mr Morrison was on holiday in Hawaii as the deadly fires burned.
Mr Morrison has often referred to Ms Berejiklian as a “good friend”. Last year, he made a public appeal for her to return to politics as the Liberal candidate in the federal seat of Warringah, an offer she ultimately declined.
Mr Morrison also laughed off not knowing the price of milk and bread, after being stumped by a question on Tuesday. He said he wasn’t interested in “gotcha” moments from journalists.
“Do you want the rye bread or the multigrain or the sourdough? If we’re going to get onto milk, is it just the ones that come from dairy or almond?” he told the Nine Network.
“The gotcha stuff from [Press] Gallery journalists – whatever. I was honest with people yesterday and they know that.”
Also on Wednesday, Mr Morrison defended his government’s delayed purchase of rapid antigen tests, saying no health advice had predicted a variant for which vaccines wouldn’t work.
Mr Morrison said other countries, such as Britain, already had supplies of the tests because they had faced tens of thousands of cases a day. But Australia had been in a position to continue using the more accurate PCR tests.
“Rapid antigen tests are not as good as PCR tests. In the Delta phase, PCR tests were the best thing to do,” he told Seven.
“Omicron changed all of that and no country in the world could avoid Omicron.”
Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles said Mr Morrison was always trying to pass the buck.
“Scott Morrison is not someone that takes responsibility,” he told Sky News.
“He is always pushing the blame to someone else.”
The leaked texts also showed how Mr Morrison’s relationship with others was framed by politicking, he said.
“If there is a political fight to have, he will do that. That’s why he’s failed to get the country together during the course of the pandemic,” Mr Marles said.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a point we’ve seen a greater sense of division within the country than under Scott Morrison’s leadership.”