The Prime Minister has doubled down on his criticism of Anthony Albanese’s handling of the bullying allegations accusing the Opposition leader of “running” from the tough questions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again taken aim at Opposition leader Anthony Albanese for failing to address the bullying allegations sweeping the Labor party.
Mr Morrison’s comments relate to allegations which suggest the late Senator Kimberley Kitching was bullied by three colleagues, Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher.
The trio were described by supporters of Ms Kitching as “the mean girls” within the Labor Party with The Australian reporting the 52-year-old was subject to a “pattern of hostility” that put her “under strain for a long time”.
Mr Morrison said they were “very, very serious” allegations and questioned more broadly what involvement Mr Albanese had in “turning the other way”.
“This is on his watch, this only happened weeks ago and he can’t duck and run on this,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“He needs to be able to face up to this and say what he’s going to do about it.
“So far he seems to just dismiss the issue completely and so right now its incumbent on Anthony Albanese to address these very serious issues and say what he’s going to do that’s what leaders need to do.”
The Prime Minister added that the Labor Party was “always very equipped” when making accusations but when forced to address these “very serious” allegations he said “they are very hard to find”.
“I mean, they are living in glass houses, some might say even a crystal cathedral on these things where they are pretty quick to throw stones,” Mr Morrison said.
“The campaign hasn’t even begun and already when he gets a hard question, he goes running.”
Following the allegations the three Senators accused of the alleged bullying have released a statement dismissing the accusations as “untrue”.
“Out of respect for them (Kitching’s family and loved ones), and for Senator Kitching, we have not responded to allegations that have been made, despite them not being true,” the statement read.
“The allegations of bullying are untrue. Other assertions which have been made are simply inaccurate.”
Last week Mr Morrison accused the Labor leader of going into “hiding” when asked about the issues.
“I think this is a matter for Anthony Albanese and I think he’s the one who needs to answer these questions,” Mr Morrison said.
“He’s gone into hiding, I mean where is Anthony Albanese, where is he on this issue?”
On Saturday Mr Albanese was asked if he had discussed the Labor Party’s Senate culture with Ms Wong, the party’s leader in the Senate, after the bullying allegations were made public.
“I speak to all of our senators all the time and I speak to all the party members all the time. Can I make this point, my door is open to every caucus member… no-one is ever denied a meeting,” he replied.
“I received no complaints about the treatment of Senator Kitching from Kimberley at any time.
“I had a number of meetings since I’ve been leader with her in my office, including one on one, and I received no complaints from Senator Kitching. That is just a fact.”
Mr Albanese referenced “some of the criticism that is around” by pointing to the statement issued by three senators.
“My colleagues in the Senate, Senator Keneally, Senator Wong and Senator Gallagher, issued a media release yesterday addressing those issues, including Senator Wong reiterating that, over a statement she made to Senator Kitching, she apologised after that occurred and she believed that the apology was accepted,” he said.
“Politics can be a robust business but politics is better for the participation of valued colleagues in leadership positions, including Penny, Katy and Kristina.
“They are all making an outstanding contribution and I’m very proud of the fact that I lead a team that has 50 per cent women make up the Shadow Cabinet, outstanding, strong, principled women and they continue to make a contribution.”
Mr Albanese has denied reports Ms Kitching was “scared” of him, saying: “That’s just not true”.