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PM’s security detail in serious car crash

PM accuses Labor over lapsed integrity legislation

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Four people have been taken to hospital after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s security detail was involved in a serious car accident on the campaign trail in Tasmania.

A vehicle carrying two federal police and two Tasmanian police officers was following Mr Morrison’s car when it rolled near Elizabeth Town in the state’s north on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s office said the four officers were taken to hospital for further assessment.

Mr Morrison was not injured or involved in the accident. However, the remainder of his campaign events for Thursday were cancelled.

Earlier, he had denied breaking an election promise after apparently walking away from plans for a federal integrity commission.

Mr Morrison also fired up at journalists as he was questioned repeatedly about an integrity commission while visiting the marginal Liberal-held seat of Bass, in Tasmania’s north, on Thursday.

“We put forward our proposal promise, in detailed legislation and it has not been supported by the Labor Party,” he said.

An integrity watchdog was a key promise from the 2019 election campaign. The government has never put legislation for its proposed body before the parliament.

Late last year, a split emerged in the Coalition when backbencher Bridget Archer – the member for Bass – crossed the floor to back an independent push to bring about the debate on the commission. It failed on a technicality.

Ms Archer was with Mr Morrison on Thursday, and said an integrity commission remained a key issue. She denied her lack of support for Mr Morrison’s model and for a key religious discrimination bill, which was also defeated, put her at odds with the Liberal Party.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t stand up and say what was important for the people of Bass, and the Prime Minister has to take that and balance that with the needs of everyone else across the country,” she said.

Mr Morrison also denied breaking a promise by failing to introduce legislation for a watchdog in the past three years.

“I need bipartisan support to put that in place. I am not going to introduce a kangaroo court. I am not going to introduce a policy that I don’t think is in the nation’s best interests and how it would be corrupted by a Labor Party that’s more interested in playing politics with this issue than addressing the real issues,” he said.

“I put forward a detailed plan, a detailed proposal, which the Labor Party rejects. I have honoured my proposal. The Labor Party don’t support it.”

He also defended his government’s preferred model, which has been criticised by experts, including by the Centre for Public Integrity, as far too weak.

“Our model has been well thought through and we have considered the sorts of protections that need to be around something like this to make it work effectively and not see it descend into the sort of farce that we have seen in NSW, where it is just weaponised politically to try to destroy people who have been cleared time and time again,” he said.

After sustained questioning from journalists on the issue, Mr Morrison fired up, snapping at one “I haven’t finished my answer”.

Journalist: Are you committing to an integrity commission?

Mr Morrison: You asked me about priorities and I will talk about what my priorities are: Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs.

Journalist: Is that a no to the integrity commission?

Mr Morrison: That is what my priorities are. I haven’t finished my answer. I uttered five words and that was ‘jobs’. That is our priority. National security is our priority.

anthony albanese
Anthony Albanese was campaigning in the Hunter on Thursday. Photo: AAP

While campaigning in the NSW seat of Hunter, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the lack of an integrity commission highlighted a failed election commitment by the government.

“[Scott Morrison] made it clear that he wouldn’t have a national integrity commission during the next term with this rather bizarre statement that the reason was because Labor didn’t support his model,” he said in the regional town of Cessnock.

“The reason why this Prime Minister doesn’t want an anti-corruption commission is sitting on his frontbench.”

Hunter is normally a safe electorate for Labor, but the opposition suffered an almost 10 per cent swing in 2019, almost losing a seat it had held for more than 100 years.

Mr Albanese was in the electorate to announce an urgent care clinic would be built in Cessnock, one of 50 promised across the country should Labor win office.

Asked where the health workers would come from to staff the clinics given current shortages, the Labor leader said there would be further announcements about training for GPs during the campaign.

The opposition has also announced a promise to keep Centrelink shopfronts open, as well as hire 200 new workers.

The opposition said almost 30 shopfronts had closed under the government, with Labor guaranteeing there would not be a net reduction.

Further up the NSW coast, Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was also in the Hunter region on Thursday. He was there for infrastructure announcements at Morisset in Lake Macquarie and at Newcastle.

The first announcement was for $55 million to upgrade and expand the terminal at Newcastle Airport to increase capacity for international commercial and freight flights into the Hunter.

-with AAP