US Capitol riots: Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten criticise Scott Morrison's response
Scott Morrison’s failure to condemn Donald Trump’s role in the shocking riots in Washington DC has come under fire from his predecessor.
In a rare television appearance, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former opposition leader Bill Shorten have accused Mr Morrison of being weak in his response to the US President inciting supporters, who then stormed the halls of Congress.
Speaking on Today, Mr Turnbull said the Prime Minister should have joined UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in condemning Trump’s actions.
“There is no point being mealy-mouthed about this,” Mr Turnbull said.
“This was not an issue of domestic American politics. This was the President of the United States inciting a mob, many of whom were armed, to attack and lay siege to the country’s parliament.
“You do not do any service to Australia, or our friends in America, by doing anything other than calling a spade anything other than a spade.”
Labor MP Bill Shorten agreed, adding Mr Morrison’s response was “weak and tepid”.
“He did the right thing and criticised the violence but just about most of the Western world and our allies around the world have gone further,” Mr Shorten said.
“This president has no respect for the truth or the rule of law. He will be gone in 12 days, thank goodness.”
Mr Morrison spoke out about the violent riots on Thursday, saying they were “terribly distressing”.
“This is a difficult time for the United States, clearly,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our thoughts are with them, and we hope for that peaceful transition to take place.”
Asked if Mr Trump held some responsibility for undermining democracy and inciting some of the chaotic scenes, Mr Morrison would only say: “I’m not going to offer any more comment than the one I’ve already made on this issue.”
But Mr Turnbull said it was important that Australia held the people who enabled Trump to do “damage” to America and the cause of democracy and freedom globally responsible.
Mr Johnson did “unreservedly condemn” Mr Trump for encouraging people to behave in a “disgraceful” way.
“He encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and in so far as the President has consistently cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that was completely wrong,” Mr Johnson said.
But opposition criticism of Mr Morrison hasn’t stopped at Donald Trump with Labor MPs turning their attack to Coalition backbenchers George Christensen and Craig Kelly who have promoted the president’s unsubstantiated claims.
The prime minister shrugged off the pair’s social media posts when asked on Thursday, reasoning that Australia was country with “freedom of speech”.
Labor MP Chris Bowen accused Mr Kelly of being “unhinged” and downplaying the riots.
“While of course we all have the right to our views, we have to be clear and condemn violence,” Mr Bowen told ABC RN.